Birthday boy Aumont bids for bullpen spot in Philly

by on January 7, 2013

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* Phillippe Aumont (Gatineau, Que.) has been going to spring training in Clearwater since 2009 and this year he has his best chance to gain a spot in the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen …  

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By Liam McGuire

Phillippe Aumont celebrates his 24th birthday Monday.

The Gatineau Que. native is posed to help the Philadelphia Phillies improving bullpen.

After making his Major League debut in late August for the Phillies, the 6-7 righty showed off his repertoire, which included his impressive fastball (which touches 96 mph) making 18 appearances out of the bullpen for the Phillies.

Aumont’s 3.68 ERA was a bright-spot for the Phillies struggling bullpen which ranked 21st in the MLB after allowing almost four runs per game.

After becoming the third highest Canadian pick in MLB history (picked 11th overall in 2007 to the Seattle Mariners) Aumont had a mid-three ERA and showed signs of becoming a dominant potential closer after locking down 16 saves in the Seattle Mariners systems. However, For Aumont, success wasn’t always easy.

After being traded in a mega-deal with fellow B.C native Tyson Gillies, that sent Cliff Lee to the Mariners, Aumont’s wheels soon fell off. The Phillies attempted to convert Aumont into a starter (he made eight career starts out of 59 appearances prior) and he struggled immensely, posting a lower strikeout rate, and an extremely high walk rate (5.9 per nine innings).

In his third career pro season, he was bouncing back and forth from double-A to class-A after ranking as the 93rd best prospect in the league by Baseball America.

The Phillies converted him back to a reliever in 2011 and he posted significantly better numbers with posting a 2.68 ERA and finishing 30 games between double-A and triple-A. In 2012 being groomed as a closer he saved 15 games for the Phillies triple-AA Leigh Valley IronPigs in a season which saw him finally get to the majors.

With the Phillies, Aumont served as a setup man for a small part of the season not allowing any home runs in his 18 appearances.

While Aumont had a successful short stint with the Phillies there is still refinement needed in his game. While he keeps the ball in the park, his walk-rate is alarming.

In four minor league seasons he walked an average of five batters per nine innings, including a career high 6.9 per game last year. While Aumont walks a lot, his career line for strikeouts per nine innings is a ridiculous 9.9, posting 13.1 in 2011 and 12 in 2012. Aumont needs to learn control.

Aumont did post a career minor league low of hits per nine innings, with only 6.9 per game in 2012 and like I mentioned, he kept the ball in the park only allowed three home runs in 41 appearances.

Aumont’s numbers shouldn’t discourage his future however, high profile relievers including Los Angeles Dodgers’ Kenley Jansen, Detroit Tigers’ Al Alburquerque and Los Angeles Angels’ Ernesto Frieri are all recent examples of relievers who have had both high walk rates and strikeout rates and have succeeded as impact major league relievers.

Aumont won’t serve as a setup man for the Phillies and Johnathan Papelbon with the recent signing of Mike Adams, but has a likely chance of breaking camp as a key part of the Phillies bullpen which will likely also include Antonio Bastardo, Jeremy Horst and Raul Valdes. 

If he doesn’t break with the team out of camp, the 25-year-old likely will be closing games earning valuable experience for the IronPigs.

Regardless of where he starts the 2013 season, Aumont has regained his status as a future major leaguer who can make an impact as a fireball reliever and could be one of the best Canadian rookie relievers since Jesse Crain (who placed eighth in Rookie of the Year voting in 2005 as a reliever with the Minnesota Twins) and should help the Phillies bullpen rebuild.

Liam McGuire
Liam was formerly the editor-in-chief of St. Thomas University’s student newspaper, The Aquinian, and now serves as a writer and a social media intern for Canadian Baseball Network. Liam has always been a fan of advanced stats and looking beyond the box score.

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