M's pick up Aumont at No. 11
Dan Evans, a special assistant to Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi, came well prepared as the team's representative Thursday at the...
Seattle Times staff
Dan Evans, a special assistant to Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi, came well prepared as the team's representative Thursday at the amateur baseball draft in Orlando, Fla.
He was armed with a good-luck charm — a small "navy blue and light blue light bag ... with some gold Japanese lettering and a white knot" — purchased last week at Hiroshima Castle while in Japan with scout Manny Noto.
Based on the reactions of the Mariners' brass when Seattle selected Canadian right-handed pitcher Phillippe Aumont with the No. 11 pick, the charm worked.
"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' vice president of scouting who was in charge of Seattle's draft.
When baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced Aumont's selection, the Mariners' draft room erupted in applause.
"We went in thinking we had a shot at three pitchers, and this is one of them," Fontaine said. "We thought going in that this would be the one we wouldn't get.
"He has got a live arm, and everything is easy. He's strong, he challenges and he competes. He wants to win and we are very happy."
Aumont, 18, is 6 feet 7 and 225 pounds, and as Fontaine said, the Mariners like big pitchers. Aumont was one of six players the Mariners selected on the first day of the draft. The 50-round event concludes today.
Aumont is from Gatineau, Quebec, an Ottawa suburb, and the first player from Quebec taken in the first round since 1997. He has a fastball that tops out at about 96 mph and a good slider.
Although the Mariners had targeted him, Aumont was unaware of the interest.
"I was surprised [to be drafted by the Mariners] because they weren't really around me during the draft process the past six months," said Aumont, whose first language is French. "Most of the teams, they're there every game, 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."
There is no high-school baseball in Quebec, and Aumont's experience is with the Canadian national program, playing in international junior tournaments and against American professional teams. He began playing baseball at 11, but didn't start pitching until three years later.
"I had a good arm and I was only a center fielder until the time I was 14," he said. "Then they put me on the bump."
Life during those years was not easy for Aumont, which he admitted in an Ottawa Sun article published last week. He moved from his parents to live with legal guardians in 2003.
"I took soft drugs and then I was involved in some small-time robberies," he told the Sun. "I was on the wrong track. Two or three of my chums from back then became vegetables because of drugs. Others are totally lost.
"I wanted a better life. I wanted a future. At one point, I had the willpower to say no."
Fontaine said the Mariners discussed many things with Aumont and are very comfortable with the pick. Dave May, the Mariners' Northeast coordinator of scouting, seemed certain the Mariners made the right choice.
"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."
The Mariners have until Aug. 15 to sign Aumont.
"I will work it out with my lawyer, and get something good for me and something good for the team," he said. "And hopefully I can go play very soon. I have been working so hard to play pro ball right away, and I think I am ready for it."
Evans believes Aumont is ready, too, and thinks the good-luck charm paid off.
Evans said in an e-mail that he is not superstitious, "but I'd never do anything to work against our best interests. And after Manny suggested it and the young woman in Hiroshima told me of its potential positive result, why wouldn't I?
"It worked. We got a really good arm."
• In the supplemental round between the first and second rounds, the Mariners picked Oklahoma State 1B Matthew Mangini No. 52 overall. A transfer from North Carolina State, he led the Cape Cod League last year in hitting at .310.
Mangini, a 6-4, 222-pound junior who hits left-handed, batted .343 with nine homers and 49 runs batted in for Oklahoma State this spring.
"Anytime you can get a big strong kid who has power from that side of the plate, you've got to feel good," Fontaine said.
The Mariners received the sandwich pick as compensation for losing free-agent pitcher Gil Meche.
• The Mariners' other picks Thursday were CF Denny Almonte of Florida Christian School in the second round (75th overall pick); CF Daniel Carroll of Valley View High School (Moreno Valley, Calif) in the third round (No. 105); RHP Nolan Gallagher of Stanford in the fourth round (No. 135); and CF Joseph Dunigan of the University of Oklahoma in the fifth round (No. 165).
Scott Hanson: 206-463-2943 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Mariners' draft picks|
|11||RHP Phillippe Aumont||Ecole Du Versant HS, Quebec, Canada|
|Round 1 — Supplementary pick|
|52||1B Matthew Mangini||Oklahoma State/North Carolina State|
|75||CF Denny Almonte||Florida Christian School|
|105||CF Daniel Carroll||Valley View H.S. (Calif.)|
|135||RHP Nolan Gallagher||Stanford University|
|165||CF Joseph Dunigan||University of Oklahoma|
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