Phillies Still Believe In Aumont

Righthander off to a good start in 2011





PHILADELPHIA—As minor league camp broke, assistant general manager Chuck LaMar offered an observation.

"Don't give up on Phillippe Aumont," LaMar said. "He had an outstanding spring. He had impressive outing after impressive outing."

Aumont, 22, was one of three players that the Phillies received from the Mariners in the Cliff Lee trade after the 2009 season. The 6-foot-7 righthander was used mostly as a starter and had a dismal season in 2010, going 3-11, 5.68  between high Class A and Double-A.

Now, Aumont is back in a late-game bullpen role. He thrived in spring training and has continued to impress at Double-A Reading, where he opened the season with seven scoreless innings over his first six appearances while allowing just one hit. He struck out nine and walked two. After one game, Reading manager Mark Parent marveled at Aumont's stuff, calling it "dominant" and "not fair."

"Phillippe's confidence is back," LaMar said. "He likes the role he's in. Going back to the bullpen—you could tell a weight had been lifted. He's throwing strikes with power stuff—94, 95 mph with a curveball and a sinker with late life. We really like what we've seen of this guy."

Aumont was the centerpiece of the Lee deal, which at the time was unpopular with fans. It became even more unpopular when Aumont struggled last season and was not on the Phillies' Top 10 Prospects list.

While it might have been easy for some to give up on Aumont, he never gave up on himself. He worked with Jack Curtis, a mental skills coach who helps Phillies minor leaguers. Curtis helped Aumont focus on being himself, not the guy who was traded for Lee. Aumont worked on his conditioning, raised his arm slot from three-quarters to its original over-the-top path and returned to the bullpen.

"The new environment affected me some last year," Aumont said. "It shouldn't have, but it did. I showed up this year with a new mindset, a positive mindset, and I'm ready to go."

PHIL-UPS

• Righthander J.C. Ramirez, 22, also acquired from Seattle in the Cliff Lee deal, was 3-0 , 1.33 after three starts in Double-A.

• Reading third baseman Cody Overbeck was off to a sizzling start, hitting .350/.381/.717 in his first 16 games.