As the highest profile player of the bunch, Phillippe Aumont was supposed to be the guy to watch. It was Aumont, who was going to ease the pain of having dealt Kyle Drabek - 7-4, 3.22 at Double-A New Hampshire - to the Blue Jays organization in the Roy Halladay deal.
Originally, all three players - Aumont, pitcher J.C. Ramirez and outfielder Tyson Gillies - were supposed to start the season at Reading, but Ramirez started at Clearwater, while the other two went to Reading.
After two rough starts for Reading, it looked like Aumont had caught on to how to get Double-A hitters out and he turned in two good outings, throwing a combined 11 innings and allowing three hits, two walks and nine strikeouts and just one earned run, lowering his season ERA to 3.32 after four starts. From there though, things turned very ugly and Aumont was never quite the same.
Aumont allowed 15 earned runs in his next 9 2/3 innings and in his last three starts, Aumont was truly bombed to the tune of an 11.48 ERA and finally, the Phillies had seen enough.
"I thought we made a mistake," assistant GM Chuck LaMar told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday. "Hindsight is 20/20, but we probably put him in a situation that was extremely hard for anyone."
LaMar believes that Aumont has the tools to be a starting pitcher, (he had been a reliever in the Seattle organization) but that he needs to develop more consistency with his pitches. LaMar said that Aumont's increased pitch counts meant that he had to have more than just good stuff to succeed at the Double-A level and it was the consistency that was lacking.
Right now, the Phillies will look just to rebuild Aumont's confidence and may put him back in the bullpen for a while in an attempt to help him readjust. Long-term though, LaMar still believes that Aumont will pitch as a starter and that he definitely has good enough pitches to reach the majors.
"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 had to gain confidence in himself. Ability can only take you so far," said LaMar in his interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Gillies has been on the DL at Reading since May 13 with a left hamstring strain and will need more time before he's ready to return to the lineup. Gillies hit just .247 with Reading before going on the DL.
Ramirez, while expecting to start the season at Reading, is 3-3 with a 4.55 ERA at Clearwater after struggling again in his last start on Sunday, going 4 2/3 innings and allowing five earned runs.
Meanwhile, after a spring injury, Cliff Lee is pitching well for Seattle, going 3-2 with a 2.91 ERA in seven starts.