You probably didn’t pay much attention (or even notice) when the New York Yankees acquired 28-year-old outfielder Mike Tauchman from the Colorado Rockies in exchange for pitching prospect Phillip Diehl towards the end of spring training on March 23rd. Who could blame you? Tauchman’s major league resume to that point was ugly: a .153/.265/.203 slash line in 69 plate appearances over 52 games for the Rockies.
From 2013 to 2016 in the Rockies’ farm system, Tauchman hadn’t shown much in his age-22 to age-25 seasons. He displayed a decent hit tool but didn’t flash much power, combining for only eight home runs across four minor league seasons. If Tauchman wanted to crack Colorado’s major league roster, he needed to make a change.
Prior to the 2017 campaign, as reported by the New York Times’ James Wagner, Tauchman worked with Justin Stone, a hitting instructor at Chicago-based Elite Baseball Training. With three-dimensional sensors and plates that measure force, Stone, who was hired as a hitting consultant by the Chicago Cubs in 2018, used biomechanics to help Tauchman improve his swing. Stone and Tauchman found that he was transferring energy inefficiently from his lower half to his upper half. In scientific terms, Tauchman’s kinetic chain, or the sequence of movements that make up his swing, was off. With Stone’s help, Tauchman learned to use his lower half better when starting his swing, enhancing the transfer of energy up the kinetic chain.
The results were undeniable. Still in Triple-A, Tauchman improved his wOBA from .322 in 2016 to .399 in 2017 and .420 in 2018. His 139 wRC+ was good for the eighth-best mark in Triple-A in 2017. In 2018, his 153 wRC+ was fourth-best, just behind fellow 2019 breakouts Daniel Vogelbach and J.D. Davis as well as Astros top prospect Kyle Tucker. Tauchman’s power had definitely increased: he tripled his career home run mark with 16 homers in 2017 and swatted another 20 in 2018. The Yankees front office took notice and was intrigued enough by Tauchman’s minor league success to add him as a depth piece just before the 2019 season. Read the rest of this entry »