From time to time this off-season, we'll take a look at young players within the Phillies organization that could impact the big league roster in 2012. In this edition, relievers Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont will be the focus, as they target filling out a Philadelphia bullpen that has multiple potential vacancies.
With the Phillies' refusal of Brad Lidge's option and with free agent Ryan Madson possibly on the move out of town, the club has some openings up for grabs in the coming season. A pair of young fireballers stand a great shot at filling those voids on the roster for the five-time defending National League East division champions.
Righty hurlers Justin De Fratus and Phillippe Aumont are two of the top candidates to make a big splash on the Phillies pitching staff next year. Each of the two relievers looked sharp at two levels of the developmental ranks this year.
De Fratus was drafted in the 11th round of the 2007 amateur draft by the Phillies. Often praised for his control, De Fratus has seen his stock rise based on his improved abilities to get batters to swing and miss. In recent years, the 6-foot-4-inch 220-pounder has seen his K/9 rate go from 8.84 in 2008 and 2009, to 9.83 in 2010, then to 11.86 in 2011.
The California native, De Fratus, has a repertoire that includes a fastball that tops out at 96 MPH, a slider which he improved in the Arizona Fall League last year after working with former Major Leaguer Ricky Bones and a deceptive change up.
Combined with Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley in 2011, De Fratus posted a 6-3 record with 15 saves, a 2.99 ERA and a .227 batting average against.
The exceptional efforts during his minor league campaign earned De Fratus a promotion to the big leagues in September. In 5 games with the Phillies, the 23-year-old held opponents to a .083 batting average and posted a 2.25 ERA.
Another relief pitcher on the verge of cracking the big league roster is Quebec native Phillippe Aumont, who was acquired as part of the return from Seattle in the December 2009 Cliff Lee trade. Initially, Aumont struggled in the Phils' system, as he was moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation. He began the 2010 season in Double-A Reading and went 1-6 with a 7.43 ERA in 11 starts before being demoted to Class A Advanced Clearwater. Back in his more familiar role as a reliever, in 2011, Aumont shined.
The 22-year-old held opponents to a .216 batting average and struck out 78 batters in 53 2/3 innings pitched in 43 combined games for Reading and Lehigh. In addition, Aumont posted a 2-5 record with 7 saves and a 2.68 ERA.
Aumont is an imposing figure that overpowers the competition not just physically, but with his intensity as well. The 6-foot-7-inch 255-pounder sports a four-seam fastball that registered at 97-98 MPH regularly throughout the 2011 season. Originally a first round draft choice of the Mariners in 2007, Aumont's repertoire also includes a strong curveball, a sinker and a split, all of which give Aumont the type of focus and swagger that should translate well as he continues to ascend up the developmental ranks.
Together, De Fratus and Aumont helped lead the Lehigh Valley IronPigs into the postseason in 2011. Each of these youngsters have much to prove in order to earn a spot with the Phillies, but both are focused on earning a roster spot next year. With some veterans on the move, arms like De Fratus' and Aumont's will be closely watched in spring training and given opportunities to become the next pitchers to rock those red Phillies pinstripes and make an impact.
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