|Jim Callis' Quick Take|
|The Mariners didn't know if Canadian high school righty Phillippe Aumont to get to them at No. 11, and pounced on him when he did. He's raw but it's easy to dream about his upside. Seattle also wouldn't have expected to get Oklahoma State third baseman Matt Mangini at No. 52 coming into the year, and though his stock slipped, he still was one of the best pure college hitters available.|
SEATTLE--Phillippe Aumont had no idea, but the Mariners were watching him very closely.
He was one of three pitchers the Mariners were targeting in the draft, and were happy the 6-foot-7, 225-pound righthander was still around at the 11th pick.
"As it got closer, we all started looking around at each other and thinking, 'Wow, we may have a chance (at Aumont),' " said Bob Fontaine, the Mariners' scouting director. "When you look at this kid and see how big and strong he is, and how big and strong he will continue to get, you can't help but get excited. We're getting a big strong righthanded pitcher, one we hope someday can be a dominant type."
Aumont is from Gatineau, Quebec, an Ottawa suburb. He has been pitching in Canada's national baseball program and is the first pitcher from Quebec to be selected in the first round. Still, it was a surprise to him that it was the Mariners.
"I was surprised because they weren't really around me during the draft process the past six months," Aumont said. "Most of the teams, they're there every game and talking to you after each game, and calling you at home and doing home visits.
"When it was my turn (to be picked), I was nervous and excited at the same time. It's an honor for me to be a part of the Seattle Mariners and their organization."
Wayne Norton, the Mariners' scout who watched Aumont the most, said the pitcher's progress impressed him.
"I've been following him now for the third year," Norton said. "The most important thing is that he's improved every time I've seen him. What I love are the intangibles. He's a very special person."
Aumont said in an Ottawa Sun article that he had a troubled youth, admitting to taking soft drugs and being involved in "small-time robberies." But he moved away from his parents in 2003 and said he has turned his life around.
Fontaine said the Mariners were very comfortable taking Aumont because of his fastball that tops out at 96 mph and his above-average slider.
Fontaine likes the experience Aumont received with the Canadian team, playing in different countries under tough pressure.
"The competition he has faced has been as good as anyone in the states," he said. "The Canadian National team, with which we saw him pitch, played against professional teams, and there is a lot to be said about that."
David May, the Mariners' Northeast scouting coordinator, is certain the team made a good selection.
"The first time I saw him last summer, he was throwing 92-93 (mph) at the time, with the makings of a slider and some sink on his fastball," he said. "This spring, he was up to 96 on his fastball with heavy sink and his slider got better. With him getting better and better, I think he has one of the highest ceilings of anyone in this draft."
Aumont, whose first language is French, said he is ready for professional baseball. He gained confidence playing in a Cape Cod League all-star game last summer.
"A lot of scouts were there, people taking notes, and I performed well," he said. "That was big for me. When you perform well under pressure, your confidence goes up."