The baseball amateur draft is a time many people look forward to so that they can voice their opinions about players that most people have never heard of. Some people do it well, some people don't, and some people take the stuff that qualified people say and try to pass it off as their own scouting insight. It's a delightful circus of emotion, hope, and plagiarism that always seems to get a big reaction from fanbases that've never even seen their new top draft pick play in a game.
We went over this a year ago, but again, I'm gonna be honest - I don't know much about the guys getting drafted. Because my weeks leading up to the draft are spent working, watching the M's, and watching the NHL playoffs, I just don't have time to appropriately research the countless players that might end up as the next top Mariner prospects. It's both something I wish I could do and something I know I can't.
Fortunately, other people can. And these other people are giving me really good vibes about our new 6'7, 18 year old right-handed prospect from the north(east), Phillippe Aumont. Baseball America likes him. John Sickels likes him. Dave Cameron likes him. And so on and so forth. For a little background, here's an interview with him recently posted at Baseball Analysts. He's only been pitching for four years and he didn't have a high school team in Canada, so you better believe he's incredibly raw, but when you're so raw and yet still so good, that just means you've got a high ceiling. The only downside I can see to this right now is that Aumont's been living in Gatineau, Quebec, which is situated right next to Ottawa, and as many of you are no doubt currently aware, Ottawa has been the cause of much personal heartbreak over the past ten years.
I'm not going to parrot what other people are saying; it's their work, and I don't have the right to claim it's mine. Dave's write-up is pretty thorough, encouraging, and free, so that should be the first thing you read. The bare bones are that Aumont has a four-seam fastball that's touched the high-90s, a two-seam fastball around 91-93 that he uses as his primary pitch, and developing secondary stuff, including a slider with pretty good potential. MiLB has a player profile complete with video for those interested.
The only new thing I want to contribute to the discussion is this - check out Aumont's delivery when compared to Brandon Morrow's:
Morrow is all power, coming off the rubber full force towards home plate. Aumont, meanwhile, is one of those "tall-and-fall" guys who starts moving towards the plate almost immediately, with his arm catching up later on. The result is that he's getting little momentum from his body and most of it from an arm that whips through the zone a lot like a right-handed Randy Johnson's.
Good? Bad? Meaningless? I'm not smart enough to answer that. Based on personal experience, my gut feeling is that he could generate more velocity by staying back a little longer, but I wouldn't be surprised if Aumont's groundball tendencies were the direct result of his delivery - his body is pulling him down towards the plate, so his arm follows suit. And since Aumont's effective two-seamer and ability to make hitters pound the ball into the ground are his big drawing points, it'd be silly to suggest that he change the way he throws. Consider this more an observation than highlighting a potential problem.
Aumont is young, raw, inexperienced, and a whole bunch of other synonyms. Even in the best-case scenario, it's going to be a while before he's ready to help the Mariners at the Major League level. However, the upside is huge, and in recognizing that the men in charge were able to ignore their presumed biases towards players who could contribute in a matter of months, instead of years. For the first time in what seems like forever, the Mariner organization has made a decision in its long-term best interests, rather than blowing off the future in the pursuit of immediate gain. And for the first time since last night, I'm smiling.