The Phillies officially announced on Tuesday that they have plans to convert Phillipe Aumont back to a starter. Aumont was the main prospect involved in the Cliff Lee deal, and has almost unlimited potential. Aumont was drafted by Seattle in 2007, 11th overall, where he started his career as a starting pitcher but was moved to a relief role due to injury concerns. Aumont has pitched very well to date, as he has posted a 3.2 era in 106 innings, while striking out 109 compared to only 91 hits.
Moving Aumont to a starting role makes the Cliff Lee deal look significantly better as starting pitching prospects are much more valuable than relief pitching prospects. Originally it appeared that the Phillies replaced their best pitching prospect in Kyle Drabek, with a good relief pitching prospect. Even though Aumont doesn't appear to be a significant drop off in talent, he represented significantly lesser value as a prospect since he was situated in the bullpen.
2010 is a big year for Aumont because he has the ability to ease the Phillies concerns for losing Drabek. When comparing Aumont to Drabek, they both appear very similar based on pitching ability. Both throw a mid-90s fastball with a 12-6 power curveball and an improving changeup. It seems that in Philadelphia, fans are seriously overrating Drabek's abilities, and underrating Aumont's abilities. Across the board, Aumont has much better statistics, albeit mostly as a reliever, but he has still outperformed Drabek to this point in their minor league careers.
Aumont will start the season in the Reading rotation which should be an exhilarating rotation as the mound will see legitimate prospects every day. I expect the rotation to appear as this in no particular order, Worley, Cisco, Flande, Aumont, and Ramirez. Worley and Flande could start in triple-A but due to the Phillies history of being conservative in player development, I expect them to start in double-A and then be promoted to triple-A. The organization will eventually have to make room in Reading for top pitching prospect, Trevor May. That is assuming that May continues to embarass batters at his current rate, 2.72 era and 10.7 SO/9.
One last thing to note, Aumont is 6'7" and 220 lbs. He is officially the second tallest player in Phillies history, only behind 6'8" Gene Conley who played in the 1960s. That should be fun to watch. The Reading Phillies should be ready to welcome Mount Aumont.