Prospect of the Day: Phillippe Aumont, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies
If current rumors and his recent performance are any indication, Philadelphia Phillies pitching prospect Phillippe Aumont will receive a shot in the majors soon. A year ago, his career looked like it might be in trouble, but he's made a rapid turnaround. Let's take a look.
Phillippe Aumont was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the first round in 2007, from high school in Gatineau, Quebec. The 11th overall pick that year, he signed late and didn't make his pro debut until 2008. He performed well for Low-A Wisconsin, posting a 2.75 ERA with a 50/19 K/BB in 56 innings, though he spent time on the DL with a sore elbow. Used as a reliever in 2009, he posted a 3.24 ERA in the difficult environment of High-A High Desert, with 12 saves and a 35/12 K/BB in 33 innings. He had command troubles after being promoted to Double-A West Tennessee, with a 5.09 ERA and 11 walks in 18 innings, though he also fanned 24.
The Phillies acquired him in the Cliff Lee trade in December '09. Sent to Double-A Reading for 2010 and placed in the starting rotation, he had massive control problems leading to a 7.43 ERA and a 38/38 K/BB in 50 innings. Demoted to High-A at mid-season, he was mediocre the rest of the way with a 4.48 ERA and a 77/42 K/BB in 72 innings for Clearwater.
Moved back to the bullpen, Aumont began 2011 at Double-A Reading, pitching 31 innings in relief and performing extremely well: 2.32 ERA, 41/11 K/BB, 23 hits allowed, 2.05 GO/AO. Promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, he's remained extremely effective through 14 innings, with a 1.98 ERA and a 24/6 K/BB ratio with 12 hits allowed. His tenure in Triple-A was interrupted by a three-week stint on the disabled list with a sore shoulder, but he's back in action now and pitching quite well, throwing six shutout innings since returning from the injury, with one walk, one hit, and 11 strikeouts.
Aumont struggled as a starter due to a below average changeup and the aforementioned command troubles. His delivery isn't smooth and he has trouble repeating it at times, hampering his control. However, in short stints he's able to maintain his mechanics more easily, giving him better command when used in the bullpen. There's nothing wrong with his arm: his fastball hits 95-97 MPH and has strong sanction action. He mixes it with a hard curveball, and the combination is devastating.
Aumont's step forward this year looks legitimate to me, and he has the stuff to be a major league closer if he maintains his command and avoids further health issues. We should see him in the majors later this year or certainly in 2012.