Writer’s note: This will be a recurrent series over the course of the year. The goal is to take a look at a guy in the system who is doing something interesting either positive or negative, or just plain interesting. The format may change but the goal is to not just look at the surface stats. Given that information out of minor league camp is limited I will kick this off with a guy on track to break camp with the big league club.
I will kick off this series with the marquee prospect in the 2009 Cliff Lee trade to Seattle. I will start off by saying I could watch Aumont pitch for days, the stuff is just so great that it is hard to not be enamored with it. With that I acknowledge Aumont has some developmental challenges in front of him.
What do we have here:
Aumont is large and is not a great baseball athlete. His delivery has a tendency to fall apart and affect his command. Aumont has three 60-70 grade pitches, but out of the bullpen he has shortened the arsenal to really include only the fastball and curveball.
Fastball – PitchFx actually classifies it as a sinker most of the time. The first thing that comes to mind is that it is hard, averaging 95.7 mph, but has been clocked as high as 98 mph. The second big thing is the large movement to the pitch, PitchFx has it breaking 11.4″ towards the arm side, comparatively Halladay’s 2-seam fastball a similar pitch has about 9.7″ of break armside at a much lower velocity.
Curveball – Aumont throws a hard curveball that has great two plane movement breaking away from right handed batters and bury down. Aumont’s curveball averaged out at 81.6 mph last year but get be as slow as 79 or as fast 84.
What he is doing poorly right now:
Consistency – There is little similar from outing to outing from Aumont and often from batter to batter. He is not repeating his delivery and location all the time. He has spurts where he is commanding his pitches and other times where he is out of the zone.
Fastball Command – Aumont is not throwing the fastball for strikes. In the outing in which he threw 10 straight balls it was mostly fastballs, and fastballs to the same location. He is starting the pitch in the middle right of the zone and it is breaking out of the zone. Hitters are not chasing it because he is not consistently throwing it in the zone. This spring he has been elevating it more and not getting it down in the zone.
What he is doing well:
Curveball Command – Aumont has been throwing the curveball for strikes. He is keeping it down in the zone and getting it to both the inside and outside corners. Since he is able to throw it for strikes consistently he has then been able to expand the zone and start them at the bottom of the zone and bury them down and a way for swinging strikes.
Where do we go from here:
Aumont’s stuff is good enough that hitters aren’t making good contact in the zone. In a small sample size appearance last September, Aumont’s sinker generated a 73.1% ground ball percent and none of his pitches were below 70%. In the minors Aumont generated a good amount of ground balls as well. If Aumont can just get the fastball in the zone enough to keep hitters honest on fastballs towards the sides of the plate he can be dominant. The curveball is a true put away pitch that he can generate swinging strikes on. It is going to take some work against major league hitters who won’t be fooled by the stuff to force him to adapt but there are reasons to like him with his issues.