Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |
One scout says he'd never heard of Mike Tauchman until seeing him play earlier this year. Another wonders, fairly, if what Tauchman has done for the Yankees so far has any chance of being sustained long term.
But the Yankees, the beneficiaries of Tauchman's perhaps-unexpected breakout this season, see something else: A potential impact player, one who has seized an opportunity he never got before.
"We feel like he has a ton of staying power," Yankees GM Brian Cashman said in a telephone interview. "We had been on him prior to this year and we hadn't really matched up (with Colorado on a potential trade).
"Our analytics and pro scouting thought there was upside here, and ceiling. There's always risk, but at the very least, we knew we were getting a fourth outfielder who could cover us in left, center and right and someone who had plate discipline and power. We felt there was untapped potential and there were a lot of things that pointed in that direction."
When asked exactly what those things were, Cashman declined to be specific. "Secret sauce, buddy," he joked.
Of course, it's easy for the GM who acquired Tauchman to predict future success for the player. But Cashman's actions perhaps show that he means what he says. Opposing teams brought up Tauchman's name repeatedly around the trade deadline, but Cashman did not seek to sell high.
"We were asked about him a number of times and we said no because we see a path to continued impact," Cashman says. "Maybe he's a late bloomer."
Whatever eventually happens with Tauchman, he's certainly played like something beyond a mere plug-in.
He's been blazing hot lately, batting .441 with six homers in 21 games since July 4. His OPS over that span is an absurd 1.325.
Just for fun, here are Christian Yelich's numbers over the same period: .360/.439/.680 with eight homers in 25 games. Mike Trout? He's at .309/.402/.840 with 14 homers in 25 games.
Overall, Tauchman was hitting .299 with a .371 on-base percentage and .563 slugging entering play Wednesday with 10 homers in 60 games. He's earned raves defensively and reached over the left-field wall at Camden Yards Tuesday to steal a home run from Pedro Severino.
But it's difficult for an unheralded 28-year-old who was never the darling of the prospect lists to convince skeptics that this is all real. Tauchman played 52 games in the majors with the Rockies, but his slash line was .153/.265/.203, which probably adds to the question about whether his current play is a hot streak or something meatier.
The scout who had not heard of Tauchman likes what he sees so far, though it sounds like Tauchman has more to prove to make the scout see more than a fill-in.
"Seems to be developing into a very useful player," the scout says. "I'm sure Colorado wishes they never got rid of him. Looks like a change of scenery story where a player is taking advantage of the chance he's given. Plays solid defense. Bat seems to have come around with some pop."
But, the scout adds, "Don't want to play him every day where he can get exposed, but in and out of the lineup where he has success can keep his confidence up and continue to perform."
Adds an executive from an opposing team: "Not sure if it's sustainable, but he's been a good shot in the arm. There are several guys like this throughout the game. Ride them while they are hot."
Another scout isn't so skeptical, noting, "I've always liked him and better than just an extra guy. He uses the whole field and knows the (strike) zone."
The Yankees got Tauchman from the Rockies on March 23 in exchange for lefty reliever Phillip Diehl, who had a brief stint in the majors with Colorado earlier this season.
"We'd expressed interest in Tauchman many times, without getting much interest from Colorado," Cashman says. Then the Rockies gave the Yankees a list of players they'd move Tauchman to get.
"We gave up a lefty reliever we liked a lot," Cashman says. "It was a wrestling match in our minds. But we made the call, even though Tauchman has only one year of options remaining and it's this year. I'm sure that was part of the motivation on Colorado's end. That was one of our hesitancies. But we wanted the depth."
Cashman won't play the "Where would you be without Tauchman" game and who can blame him? The Yankees have had so many injuries this year that they've needed other fill-ins to bloom, too, and several beyond Tauchman have done just that.
"He's playing a very important part, no doubt about it," Cashman says. "Every time you make an acquisition, whether a big name or one that hasn't made his presence felt yet, it's always with the intent of improving. He's improved us in a big way and has given us some options.
"I'm happy he's here and performing, along with a lot of other people who stepped up when given opportunities. Makes you wonder how many other guys are out there, just waiting for an opportunity, too."