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Phillippe Aumont

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Phillippe Aumont

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Phillippe Aumont was the third-highest drafted Canadian ever when he was chosen 11th overall by the Seattle Mariners in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft. Aumont was the ace of the Canadian junior national team but lost in the semifinals to South Korea in the 2006 World Junior Championship. A year later, the Mariners drafted him. The only Canadians who had been drafted higher were Adam Loewen (#4 in 2002) and Jeff Francis (#9 in 2002).

Aumont was signed by scout Wayne Norton, but did not pitch in the minor leagues in 2007. He made his debut for Team Canada's senior team in the 2007 Baseball World Cup, getting the start against the mighty Cuban national team. He pitched two innings, striking out one and allowing two hits, before being relieved by Scott Richmond. It was Aumont's lone appearance of the Cup.

Aumont made his professional debut on April 5, 2008 for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. He threw four hitless innings, walking one and striking out four as Wisconsin topped the Quad Cities River Bandits, 2-0. He said "The World Cup definitely helped prepare me for today. I faced a lot of Double-A and Triple-A hitters, so I had plenty of confidence I could do it here." Aumont finished the season 4-4 with 2 saves and a 2.75 ERA for Wisconsin. Baseball America ranked him as the #8 prospect in the Midwest League. He had initially decided to skip the 2009 World Baseball Classic but later agreed to pitch for Canada. He was used for an inning in Canada's opening game against Team USA on March 7th in Toronto, and impressed everyone when he escaped a none-out, bases loaded jam by striking out Kevin Youkilis and Curtis Granderson and forcing David Wright to hit a soft liner.

In 2009, he was named the 93rd best prospect overall by Baseball America. That year, he went 2-6 with a 3.88 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 44 relief appearances for the High Desert Mavericks and West Tenn Diamond Jaxx. On December 16th, he was traded with Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez to the Philadelphia Phillies for Cliff Lee. He went 3-11 with a 5.68 ERA in 2010, splitting time between the Clearwater Threshers and Reading Phillies as the Phllies attempted to convert him to a starting pitcher, a move that was much criticized beforehand, as Aumont had displayed the typical closer's stuff and make-up up to that point. Realizing their mistake, the Phillies put him back in the bullpen in 2011, and he did much better. He went 1-5, 2.32, with 41 strikeouts in 31 innings, in 25 games for AA Reading, then was promoted to the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs, where he was 1-0, 3.18, and struck out another 37 batters in 22 2/3 innings over 18 games. With Aumont now only a short step away from the big leagues, the Phillies brought him to Philadelphia, PA during the winter to be part of their "Prospect education program", aimed at preparing some of their top minor leaguers to the challenges of life in the big leagues. The only question was whether he would make the team out of spring training in 2012, or have to wait until an opening caused by injury or ineffectiveness.

He finally got the call to the Bigs on August 20, 2012 when the Phillies placed pitcher Jeremy Horst on the paternity leave list. Aumont had spent the entire season up to that point with Lehigh Valley, going 3-1 with a 4.26 ERA and 15 saves in 41 outings. His electric stuff was still on display, with 59 strikeouts in 44 1/3 innings, but he was also still working on his control and consistency, as witnessed by his 34 walks - as many as the number of hits he had allowed. He made his major league debut on August 23rd, facing the Cincinnati Reds. He entered the game in the 8th inning in relief of Cole Hamels and B.J. Rosenberg with the Phillies trailing, 3-2, and pitched a scoreless inning, allowing only a two-out walk to Miguel Cairo. He was then replaced by pinch-hitter Ty Wigginton in the bottom of the inning after the Phillies had tied the score, and his teammates went to win, 4-3, in 11 innings. He pitched in 18 games for the Phillies that first season, with a loss and two saves and a 3.68 ERA. In 14 2/3 innings, he gave up 10 hits and 9 walks, but struck out 14.

Aumont pitched for Team Canada in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, but was hit hard in his only appearance against the Italian national team, when he gave up 3 runs on 3 hits and a walk in two-thirds of an inning on March 8th - a far cry from his brilliant turn on the mound four years earlier. He did make the Phillies' bullpen out of spring training in 2013 and did not allow an earned run in his first five appearances. However, his record stood at 1-2, the result of a couple of unearned runs allowed in key situations. The second of those losses came in particularly unusual circumstances on April 17th; the previous day, he had been announced to pitch the bottom of the 9th in a scoreless game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark when the skies opened and forced the suspension of the game before he could throw a pitch. The game resumed before a sparse mid-afternoon crowd the next day, and he loaded the bases without recording an out, in part due to an error by CF Ben Revere, before Joey Votto ended the game with a single. The resumed game had taken all of 9 minutes, without the Phillies getting a chance to return to bat; it was the Phillies' first suspended game since Game 5 of the 2008 World Series.

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