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Aumont emerging as solid starting pitcher

Right-hander's ERA at Triple-A down to 1.29 after seven shutout innings Wednesday

PHILADELPHIA -- If Triple-A Lehigh Valley right-hander Phillippe Aumont returns to the big leagues as an effective starter, it would be one heck of a story.

Aumont's career as a Phillies relief pitcher had stalled because he could not throw strikes on a consistent basis. In fact, his Phillies career could have ended, but he cleared waivers in March and the Phillies sent him to Minor League camp.

There, he slowly started to reinvented himself as a starter. The Phillies actually made him a starter when they acquired him in the December 2009 Cliff Lee trade. It lasted one season before they returned him to the bullpen.

But Aumont threw seven scoreless innings Wednesday in a start against Columbus. He is 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA in four starts with the IronPigs, allowing 16 hits, three earned runs, five walks and striking out 16 in 21 innings.

It is a remarkable turnaround.

"Phillippe told me he's extremely happy to be back in the rotation," Phillies director of player development Joe Jordan said. "He looks like it. There's a tempo to what he's doing. He used to take forever between pitches. He's crisp. He has some big misses, but he gets right back in the zone. Seven strong innings today, really. He had an above-average, maybe well above-average fastball. Above-average breaking ball. Two Major League pitches.

"He's just in a great frame of mind. Right-handed hitters had no chance on his breaking ball today. He locked up about five or six. He was 94-96 mph with his fastball. They just couldn't pull the trigger on the breaking ball."

Could this really happen? Could Aumont, who is the only remaining piece from the Lee trade, really return and contribute in the future as a starter?

"He didn't look out of place today at all," Jordan said. "We're staying with it. We're committed to it. We're going to try to find out. He looks the part."

Todd Zolecki is a reporter for Read his Phillies blog The Zo Zone, follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.
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