In his first big-league camp with the Colorado Rockies, outfielder Mike Tauchman is making the most of his moments.
Tauchman has put together some impressive numbers in the minors, including a .294 season last year in his first Double-A season with the New Britain Rock Cats. On his way to earning All-Star honors last season, Tauchman established new career highs in doubles (23), triples (6), total bases (193), stolen bases (25), and walks (47).
The solid season paid off as Tauchman was invited to spring training with the Rockies.
“I was excited. It made me those last few weeks of the offseason go a little slower,” Tauchman smiled. “I was looking forward to getting out here. It was definitely exciting and I viewed it as an opportunity to make a good impression on the big league staff and the organization.”
Through Thursday’s games, Tauchman is batting .333 with three hits in nine at-bats. One of those hits was a two-run triple in Colorado’s 9-5 decision over the San Diego Padres on March 5.
“Earlier in the week, I was being a little overaggressive and trying to get hits,” Tauchman said. “I went back to my approach of being patient and thinking, ‘If I get a fastball over the big portion of the plate, I’m just going to put a good swing on it and not do too much.’ I just wanted to put the barrel on it. It felt good. Even though they’re spring training games and they don’t count for standings or toward the championship, it’s always good to have a big hit in a big situation. In the grand scheme of things, it felt good to have my approach and execute what I was trying to do.”
The 25-year-old left-hander says he is enjoying the moment but also soaking up as much knowledge as he can from veteran outfielders such as Carlos Gonzalez and Charlie Blackmon.
“They’ve been very welcoming,” Tauchman said of his spring teammates with MLB experience. “I have nothing but positive things to say. It’s always good to pick the brains of guys who have had success at the Major League level. That’s something that not a lot of people are able to do. Any time you can talk to those guys and pick their brains about how they prepare or what they would do in certain situations, it’s great.
“Being here helps with the mental preparation. Seeing how the veterans prepare and getting at-bats versus high-quality pitching, that is big. Any time you see arms that are big-league arms, it’s only going to make you better. You learn from it and see how your approach plays versus that kind of talent. You do a lot of self-evaluating, see where you’re at, and make the adjustments you need to make. If something’s going good, you roll with it and go from there.”
A semi-finalist for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award and a first-team Rawlings/ABCA All-American in 2013 at Bradley University, Tauchman was drafted in the 10th round by the Rockies. He has steadily moved up the organizational charts and is trying to soak in the moment rather than let the pressure of performing with his big-league counterparts watching him affect his play.
“I think there can be pressure but the mark of the guys who are the really elite players in the game is that they can take really big moments and treat it like they’re in the backyard taking batting practice off their dad,” Tauchman said. “They have that kind of calmness. That’s something that you can work on and not let the moment get too big and think in the grand scope of things that you’re getting ready for the season, whether you’re in Asheville, Modesto, Hartford, Albuquerque, or Denver. You have to get ready for the season.”
For now, Tauchman doesn’t know which level of the Colorado organization he will call home this season. That’s OK with him. He says he is more on being the best player he can be rather than his address.
“I’m trying to take things a day at a time,” Tauchman said. “It’s my first time in camp and I am trying to learn a lot from the veterans. They’ve been great. I’m trying to make the most of the opportunities when I get in the games and get at-bats. I’m doing everything with the mindset of preparing for the season.”