Chris Piggott has coached baseball for more than 20 years at Fremd High School and to this day, the only freshman he brought up to the varsity lineup was Mike Tauchman.
It turns out, what goes around, comes around. Fast forward to this year’s Cubs spring training in Mesa, where Tauchman once again is hoping to impress the coaches and make the opening day lineup. Here’s what happened back in high school:
“We were struggling defensively in the outfield and he was clearly the best defender in our program, under the varsity level,” says Piggott, a standout athlete himself at Stevenson High School. “What we weren’t counting on was his hitting, but for the last third of the season, when we brought him up, he hit .300. He started ever since then.”
As it turns out, baseball wasn’t his only sport. Tauchman played football all four years, as quarterback and a wide receiver. He even engineered a second half comeback win to defeat Jimmy Garoppolo and the Rolling Meadows Mustangs, during his senior year.
Tauchman graduated from Fremd in 2009 and would go on to have an outstanding career at Bradley, where in 2013 he batted .425, leading all NCAA Division I baseball players that year.
Fast forward 10 years, and Tauchman is a veteran outfielder, and still turning heads. So far, at the Cubs spring training camp in Mesa, he is batting .400 doing while playing in left field. With Cubs outfielder, Seiya Suzuki, out with a strained oblique muscle, Tauchman’s once longshot odds of making the opening day roster, are looking good.
‘‘You can just tell he’s been around and has got time in the big leagues, knows how to handle his at-bats,’’ Cubs manager David Ross said of Tauchman, on Sports Illustrated’s FanNation, Inside the Cubs. ‘‘The things that stood out early were calm approach, better outfielder than I expected, thinks through his at-bats, thinks through his swing, feels like he controls the zone really well and making solid contact.’”
Tauchman was drafted by the Rockies in 10th round of the 2013 MLB draft. He made his Major League debut in June 2017 and has spent time in the Rockies, Yankees and Giants organizations. The Cubs signed him in January to a minor league contract, bringing the Palatine native back home.
“He’s a determined and athletic player, who plays like he’s got a chip on his shoulder,” his high school coach Piggott says. “He always wants to be better. I know he would bring a lot to the program. He knows the game, he knows how to prepare and he’d be a good role model in the clubhouse. He’s got a lot of intangibles.”