|Top pick Aumont arrives in Seattle for show, may return soon to play|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 17 August 2007 15:22|
And based on his potential, on how much the Mariners are gushing over him and on Seattle's most recent history with its top draft choice, Aumont should be thinking big, too.
On Friday, anyway, it wasn't a stretch to think the 18-year-old Canadian and 11th overall selection in June's draft may join Brandon Morrow, the Mariners' top pick last year, and 21-year-old ace Felix Hernandez as part of a flame-throwing rotation in Seattle soon.
``I'll start with: 6-foot-7, 225 pounds,'' said Wayne Norton, the Mariners' scouting supervisor for Canada, drawing a room full of laughs as Aumont was being introduced after signing a contract with a $1.9 million signing bonus.
``Then, he throws in the mid-90s.''
So does Morrow, selected fifth overall out of the University of California 14 months ago. The 23-year-old pitched one game at Class A last fall before finding himself in the Mariners' bullpen for all of this season. Seattle is expected to put him in its rotation to begin next season.
Yes, Aumont noticed.
``It's a fun thing to know that a pitcher they drafted in the first round last year ended up playing in the big leagues right away,'' said the highest Canadian selected in the major league draft since 2002, when Baltimore chose Adam Loewen fourth overall and Colorado took Jeff Francis ninth.
``The thing is, he's a college guy, so he's older,'' Aumont said of Morrow. ``I can probably do it, too. But I don't want to rush things.''
The temptation could be there for the Mariners. Aumont, a native of Gatineau, Quebec, throws his fastball up to 97 mph. His sinking, two-seam fastball routinely zooms at 93 or 94.
``How many guys can hit that velocity now in the major leagues? One per staff, maybe,'' said Dan Lawson, who has a slanted view because he is Aumont's agent.
But Aumont began playing baseball only four years ago. He didn't begin considering a career in professional baseball until early last year - about the same time he refused an invitation to join a top all-star team of high school basketball players in Quebec to concentrate on being a pitcher.
The Mariners equate Aumont's experience pitching for the Canadian junior team, which he will rejoin for tournaments in Illinois and Mexico through Sept. 1, to a player with community college or rookie-level minor league experience in the United States.
So he's got some developing - and proving - to do before he reaches Seattle. Next month, he will join Mariners' instructional league prospects in Arizona. Then in February, the Mariners will invite him to their spring training camp, as they do each spring after signing their top pick.
They extended the same opportunity to Morrow as a non-roster invitee this spring - and he blew them and the Cactus League away to win a roster spot.
``There's more to come,'' Norton said of Aumont. ``I think he's obviously going to get bigger, stronger. There is obviously some refinement ... that is going to increase his velocity.
``So, yeah, I see him as a front-end (of the rotation) power pitcher.''
Norton said he's scouted some of Canada's best going back to Loewen and Francis, ``who are doing quite well right now. This guy doesn't take a back seat to those two gentlemen.
``I want to take the opportunity to thank him. Guys like him make scouting easy.''