by Jordan Lank
The Coastal Plain League prides itself as one of the best summer collegiate baseball leagues in the country, producing top-shelf Major League Baseball names like Justin Verlander, Mark Reynolds and Chris Taylor. One former Fayetteville SwampDog is making a name for himself this year in what is perennially one of the biggest markets for baseball: New York City.
Mike Tauchman is tearing up the big leagues for the New York Yankees, a performance that — quite frankly — most baseball fans never saw coming. The 28-year-old outfielder flipped the switch for the Yanks this year, to whom he was traded in late March as a band-aid for an injured outfield.
In just 60 games, Tauchman has collected 52 hits — 25 of which have come for extra bases — and has driven in 36 runs. To date, Tauchman is hitting .299 and his OPS+ (an advanced metric that normalizes on-base plus slugging percentage and accounts for external factors like ballpark size) is 145, meaning that Tauchman's OPS is 45 percent better than league average. Defensively, Tauchman has wowed New York fans as well, leaping to rob home runs and diving for balls with great awareness.
"We are very proud of Mike," SwampDogs general manager Jeremy Aagard said. "You could tell there was something special about him from day one. We were excited for great things from him and we're very glad they came to fruition."
Tauchman's 2012 season with the SwampDogs was impressive to say the least. The then-junior out of Bradley hit .351 in 44 games, collecting 30 RBIs. He led the team in runs with 38 and compiled a sterling .985 fielding percentage. Tauchman, who has always been considered a threat on the basepaths, swiped 35 bags in 40 attempts for the 'Dogs. He was one of the main catalysts for the SwampDogs, who reached the Pettit Cup Playoffs championship round in the season he played at "The Swamp."
The opportunity to play every day with the Yankees came when outfielder Aaron Hicks went down with a lower-back strain. Tauchman has certainly taken advantage of every chance he has been given, especially after receiving limited playing time in the majors with the Colorado Rockies. Tauchman was drafted by Colorado in the 10th round of the 2013 MLB Draft, but played in only 52 games between 2017 and 2018 with the Rockies and tabbed just nine hits at the major-league level.
In New York, the tides have turned and the once-fringe big leaguer is now giving plenty of baseball fans something to "Tauch" about.