At the end of spring training, Phillies assistant general manager Chuck LaMar and his developmental staff had a long debate about whether to send righthander Phillippe Aumont to double-A Reading or single-A Clearwater.
Aumont, the top prospect acquired in the off-season trade for Cliff Lee, had only made eight starts as a professional pitcher. He spent all of 2009 as a reliever but the Phillies viewed him as a starter.
The meetings ended with the decision of sending Aumont to double A. On Sunday, after 11 starts with Reading, Aumont was demoted to single A.
LaMar said he regretted the original decision to send Aumont to Reading.
“I thought we made a mistake,” LaMar said Sunday. “I told Phillippe that today. Hindsight is 20-20. But we probably put him in a situation that was extremely hard for anyone.”
Aumont was 1-6 with a 7.43 ERA at Reading. He pitched six no-hit innings in his fourth start of the season, leading LaMar and others to begin thinking it could work out.
Since that outing, Aumont has a 10.73 ERA. In 49 2/3 total innings at Reading, he struck out 38 and walked 38. Opponents hit .284 off of him.
“It’s consistency,” LaMar said. “His stuff is there, but at the double-A level, you not only have to have stuff; you have to have command of that stuff and be able to use it consistently. Right now he’s just a young kid with stuff who had to be able to use it. In the bullpen, where Seattle had him, you can come in for just an inning and go stuff. But as a starting pitcher throwing 100 pitches at the double-A level, you need to have more than that.”
LaMar said the team plans to keep Aumont as a starter. He may not start games right away for Clearwater, instead pitching three- or four-inning stints at a time to build his confidence back up with some positive results.
“We think he’s going to pitch in the major leagues,” LaMar said. “We think he’s going to pitch in the major leagues for the Phillies. We like his size. We like his stuff. We like his competitiveness. He also had to continue to gain confidence in himself. Ability can only take you so far. At some point you have to have results.”