Thursday, June 16, 2011

Quartet of Reading Stars Headed to Lehigh

Before any official release was made by the organization, news came out on Thursday, thanks to social media, that two of the organization's top relief pitching prospects were taking another step toward their ultimate goals of pitching in the Major Leagues. Right-handed pitchers Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont are headed from Double A Reading to the Triple A level Lehigh Valley IronPigs.

Both De Fratus and Aumont announced their promotions via Twitter between late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning.

De Fratus, a 6-foot-4-inch 220-pounder, has been excellent with the R-Phils. In 23 games, De Fratus posted a 4-0 record with a 2.10 ERA and a team leading 8 saves. De Fratus' 43 strike outs in 34 1/3 innings are impressive as well. The 23-year-old was ranked 5th in the PhoulBallz/PhilliesNation 2011 prospect rankings.

The Oxnard, California native De Fratus was originally an 11th round draft pick in 2007 by the Phillies, is definitely pleased with the move, but still has goals to achieve.

"I'm excited, of course...but, the goal is still Philadelphia," De Fratus said. "This just brings me one step closer to where I've always wanted to be- on a big league mound."

Aumont, who intimidates opposing batters with his 6-foot-7-inch 255-pound frame, had split duties at the back end of the Reading bullpen all season long. In 25 games, Aumont posted a 1-5 record with a 2.32 ERA and 4 saves. Aumont, a dominating force, also struck out 41 batters in 31 innings. The 22-year-old was ranked 13th in PhoulBallz/PhilliesNation's 2011 prospect rankings.

The Quebec native Aumont was acquired by the Phillies in December, 2009 from the Mariners as part of the Cliff Lee trade. Aumont struggled last year in his first season in the Phillies organization, after the club converted him to a starter. However, back in his more comfortable role out of the bullpen, Aumont has shined.

According to Reading manager Mark Parent, the absence of De Fratus and Aumont will leave quite a hole within the R-Phils' pitching staff but knows that both men are worthy of the promotion.

"Aumont and De Fratus will be missed," Parent said. "They, however, need to find out about the next level. Hopefully, they go there and work hard and listen to (pitching coach) Rod Nichols and help the IronPigs stay very competetive."

Along with the pair of relievers, power hitting third baseman Cody Overbeck is headed to Lehigh as well. Overbeck, a 6-foot-1-inch, 200-pounder, was a 9th round draft selection by the Phillies in 2008.

Through 62 games this year, Overbeck hit .275 while leading the Eastern League with 18 homeruns and 46 RBI.

Overbeck's defensive versatility benefits him as he moves upward. He's played extensively at third base during his pro career, but has spent time manning 1st base and even dabbled in the outfield this year as well.

Mark Parent feels that Overbeck, who was ranked 23rd in the PhoulBallz/PhilliesNation 2011 prospect rankings, is deserving of the move upward and has been pleased with his performance overall this season.

"Overbeck's done a fabulous job," Parent said. "He's got good hands. His hand-eye coordination is really good. And when he gets to the ball, he's got outstanding pop."

Starting pitcher Ryan Edell joins the trio en route to joining the IronPigs on the road. Edell, a 27-year-old lefty has been Reading's most consistent starter, posting a 5- 1 record with a 3.50 ERA in 12 starts.

Voids had been left on the Lehigh roster this week following the retirement of infielder Ronnie Belliard, the departure of starting pitcher Brian Gordon for the Yankees and pitcher Nate Bump's hamstring injury.

All four players are certainly deserving of a move to the Lehigh Valley roster and all will join the team for a 4-game series in Pawtucket that begins Thursday night. However, like De Fratus said, this is just one more step and it will be up to each player to continue to excel and take the necessary strides to joining the Phillies at the highest level of the game.

To correspond with those roster moves, Reading will be adding some players of their own. Reliever Justin Friend and first baseman/DH/left fielder/former pitcher Joe Savery will join the R-Phils' roster from High A Clearwater, while Chance Chapman has been demoted from Lehigh Valley..
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