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Mariners, Aumont reach deal

Mariners, Aumont reach deal

SEATTLE -- The Mariners and first-round Draft choice Phillippe Aumont have reached an agreement on a contract, the Mariners announced on Wednesday afternoon.

Aumont, a right-handed pitcher from Quebec, Canada, received a $1.9 million signing bonus.

"We are really excited about Phillippe," scouting director Bob Fontaine said. "He has impressive stuff now, but we feel he's still getting better and is really going to be a special pitcher. His arm doesn't have the wear and tear of some premium prospects, but he has the advantage of having faced top-flight competition with the Canadian national team."

Aumont will be in Seattle on Friday to finalize the deal and meet with local media.

The Mariners faced a 9 p.m. PT deadline for signing their Draft picks from this year's First-Year Player Draft. They signed 31 of their 51 selections, including right-handed pitcher Colin Buckborough (16th round), right-handed pitcher Brooks Mohr (27th) and second baseman Bake Trinkler, all of whom reached tentative agreements on Wednesday morning and were expected to finalize their 2008 contracts sometime in the afternoon.

But Aumont was the signing highlight. If an agreement hadn't been reached, he probably would have enrolled in a junior college program in Canada and returned to the talent pool for next year's Draft, leaving Seattle with a comparable compensation pick.

The 18-year-old pitcher, from Quebec, Canada, starred for the Canadian junior national team last year and was voted by Perfect Game as the Canada East Player of the Year. He was rated by Baseball America as one of the top right-handed pitchers heading into the 2007 Draft, as well as the No. 9 high school prospect and the top Canadian prospect.

At 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds, he already has a frame that exudes power, and he should get even stronger down the road.

"Phillippe is a power pitcher and we are confident he will be able to contribute to the success of our organization very quickly," Fontaine said the day Aumont was drafted. "He has a live arm. Everything is easy. He's strong, challenges hitters, competes and wants to win. We're very happy."

The Mariners were hoping that Aumont would sign quickly and begin his career in the Minor League system. But that hasn't happened.

Now, even with an agreement in place, it probably will take at least two weeks for Aumont to get a working visa, allowing him to play for the Mariners' organization.

One possibility is for the Mariners to request permission for Aumont to play for Team Canada until he receives the visa.

After being idle for a few weeks after June Draft, Aumont reportedly has been working out and pitched four innings on Saturday, striking out eight of the batters he faced, with his fastball topping out at 94 mph.

The Mariners, meanwhile, have signed the remainder of their first 16 Draft choices -- including third baseman Matt Mangini, a sandwich selection between the first and second rounds as compensation for losing pitcher Gil Meche to the Royals.

While the players that signed soon after the Draft already have started their professional careers, the most recent signees will report to the Arizona Instructional League on Sept. 18.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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