PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Before Cliff Lee re-signed with the Phillies during the offseason, there was some outrage among the faithful about the perceived lack of quality prospects the team had received from Seattle in the trade that sent Lee packing back in December 2009.

And RHP Phillippe Aumont’s struggles last season and OF Tyson Gillies’ injury and off-the-field problems added a lot of fuel to the fire.

But very quietly, the third player acquired in the Lee deal, RHP JC Ramirez, has pitched very effective baseball for the Double-A Reading Phillies.

Ramirez went 7-7 last season while splitting time between Single-A Clearwater and the R-Phils.  He started this season in Reading’s rotation, after off-season hip surgery.

“I’m feeling stronger — my lower body is getting stronger after my hip surgery, ” he tells KYW’s Matt Leon.

Hear Matt Leon’s full interview with JC Ramirez in this CBS Philly SportsPod…

Ramirez started the campaign by winning his first four starts for Reading.  And despite struggling in his last two outings, he is still sitting at 4-2 with a fine 2.81 ERA.

“I think I’ve been throwing good,” he said.  “I’ve just been missing some spots.  It’s all about fastball command.  It’s not a big deal, so I have to throw more in the spot that I want.”

One number that is down for Ramirez in the early going is strikeouts.  Despite very good stuff (which includes a plus fastball) he has punched out only nine hitters in 32 innings.  But he says the lack of K’s is no big deal to him:

“Right now I’m just throwing for contact.  I’m just trying to get my fastball command, and they are swinging early in the count.  Don’t matter if I strike out ten or one or none, if I get seven, eight, nine innings.”

Ramirez had spent his entire career in the Seattle organization before the trade.   He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Mariners in July of 2005.  He talks about getting dealt for the first time in his career:

“When I knew was traded I was a little bit sad, because I spent a lot of time with Seattle.  But then I was happy because I knew I was going to meet (Roy) Halladay and those pitchers over here.  It was kind of confusing, too.  And then when I came here I was a little nervous, and there was a lot of pressure on me.  But I think I handled it right, and now I just want to show them who I am.”

As a result of his success, Ramirez was named the Phillies’ “Minor League Pitcher of the Month” for April.

And there is also good news on the progress of Aumont, the other pitcher acquired in the Lee deal.  He is pitching very well out of the R-Phils’ bullpen.  The 6′ 7″ righthander did allow a three run home run last night in a loss to New Hampshire, but that was really a rare rough outing for him.

In 16 innings for Reading, the 22-year-old Aumont has allowed just nine hits and six earned runs, with the Eastern League hitting just .150 against him.  His K/BB ratio is also worth noting: he has 22 strikeouts and just four walks.

Reported by Matt Leon, KYW Newsradio 1060

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