Aumont goes 11th to Mariners

TIM BAINES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

In the shadows of The Magic Kingdom, Phillippe Aumont's big-league dream came true yesterday.

When the Seattle Mariners called Aumont's name early in yesterday's Major League Baseball draft at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, the towering pitcher from Gatineau took a deep breath and proudly walked up to the centre stage.

It's a stage he's been waiting to take for a long time -- after months of intense scrutiny from dozens of major-league scouts on diamonds all over North America.

Aumont was taken 11th overall, the third-highest a Canadian has ever been chosen -- behind left-handed pitchers Adam Loewen (fourth) and Jeff Francis (ninth). He's also the first Quebecer to be taken in the first round.

"This is pretty exciting," said the 18-year-old Aumont, who stands 6-foot-7. "There were a lot of things going through my mind, but when they called my name ... this is really big."

Aumont was caught off guard a bit by the selection, since the Mariners were not one of the teams he'd spent much time talking to in the months leading up to the draft.

SURPRISED IT'S SEATTLE

"I wasn't disappointed, but it did take me by surprise," he said. "I'm very proud (to be taken by Seattle)."

Aumont arrived in Orlando on Wednesday. When he woke up yesterday, he admits he was anxious to get on with the day.

"(Yesterday morning) I couldn't eat ... I was very nervous.

"I tried to relax by watching TV ... the movie The Matrix."

And, in the city where The Magic Kingdom rules, and where his dreams came true, Aumont will return home to Gatineau today ... while his agent, Dan Lawson, negotiates a contract that could bring the teenager a bonus of more than $1 million US.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays took Vanderbilt left-hander David Price first overall.

The first round of the draft was televised live (on ESPN2) from an actual site for the first time after being held strictly by conference call in previous years. About 400-500 fans were on hand.

Commissioner Bud Selig was in attendance, along with baseball luminaries Tommy Lasorda, Dave Winfield, Darryl Strawberry, Don Zimmer and Frank Howard.

The Toronto Blue Jays had two first-rounders, using their first pick at No. 16 to select shortstop/third baseman Kevin Ahrens out of Memorial High School in Houston. The Jays took Tennessee catcher J.P. Arencibia at No. 21.

TIM.BAINES@SUNMEDIA.CA

-- With files from AP


Videos

Photos