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  • What to Make of Trevor May?

    Baseball America, one of the most reputed publications in the nation for baseball prospect coverage, released its annual list of the Top 10 prospects in the Minnesota Twins organization earlier this week, courtesy of Mike Berardino.

    The list included a few surprises and some promising signs, such as the presence of five pitchers among the top eight names. One of those hurlers is Trevor May, who was ranked No. 8.

    Baseball America released its last Top 10 for the Twins in November of 2012, before May was acquired from the Phillies, so we can't make a straight year-to-year comparison. But it's worth noting that the right-hander ranked ninth on the Twins Daily Top 10 list prior to the 2013 season, so BA ranking him eighth among a deep and strong system indicates that his stock is at least holding steady in the eyes of many.


    That's a little surprising, because May showed a disappointing lack of progress in the 2013 season. While playing in the same league as the year before (Minnesota and Philadelphia both have Double-A affiliates in the Eastern League), the righty put up extremely similar numbers:

    Reading, 2012: 28 GS, 149.2 IP, 4.87 ERA 1.45 WHIP, 151/78 K/BB
    New Britain, 2013: 27 GS, 151.2 IP, 4.51 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 159/67 K/BB

    Despite having a full season of experience in the league and being a year older, May showed only very slight improvement in his numbers. For a 23-year-old repeating Double-A, it's tough to be impressed by a 4.51 ERA and 1.42 WHIP. In that respect, May's placement at No. 8 on BA's list seems high.

    Then again, you don't have to look hard to find some real positives in the bulky hurler. He continues to be a durable workhorse; he hasn't missed a start in three years and has logged about 150 innings every season during that span. He also led the Eastern League in strikeouts for a second consecutive season in 2013.

    Those missed bats have come along with iffy control, as illustrated by his 4.0 BB/9 rate last year. Yet, in the context of his career, that number really isn't too discouraging. May has always struggled to throw strikes (his career BB/9 average is 4.6), and his 4.0 mark actually ties for a career low. The improvement was especially noticeable after the first leg of the season; over the final three months, May issued only 35 walks in 95 innings (3.3 BB/9).

    Still, the results weren't there. During those last three months, he put up a 4.64 ERA. Because he's been unable to back up the big strikeout numbers with overall success at the higher levels, many have speculated that May could end up in the bullpen. That is, in fact, where he pitched almost exclusively in the Arizona Fall League, registering a 3.21 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 14 appearances.

    May was interviewed this week by MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, who asked about his experience pitching out of the bullpen. May said the switch was made mostly to keep his innings in check, but added: "I think I fell into that role pretty well. I know that regardless of what role I need to play on a team, I'm comfortable pitching any inning, coming in whenever."

    Given his profile and his high-end stuff, I feel pretty confident that May would excel in a relief role, but it's too soon to relegate him to that outcome. He can, of course, offer more value as a starter, and 2014 may be one of his last opportunities to prove that he can be an asset there. He'll be 24 and (likely) in Triple-A, so the Twins need to determine what his long-term role is going to be as a big-leaguer.

    It would be great if he can re-establish himself as a top starter prospect this year, perhaps joining Alex Meyer and Kyle Gibson as youngsters with the potential to make a real, positive impact in the '14 rotation.

    That's certainly what the Twins were hoping for when they acquired May alongside Vance Worley 13 months ago.
    This article was originally published in blog: What to Make of Trevor May? started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 72 Comments
    1. chuchadoro's Avatar
      chuchadoro -
      I think tobi is working from the premise that May will be a hard-throwing, cost-controlled bullpen option at worst and Revere needs to hit .325 to have a .350 OBP and could not throw a ball out of a wet paper bag. It might be a little early to call it a good return but you can see what he's getting at.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by chuchadoro View Post
      I think tobi is working from the premise that May will be a hard-throwing, cost-controlled bullpen option at worst and Revere needs to hit .325 to have a .350 OBP and could not throw a ball out of a wet paper bag. It might be a little early to call it a good return but you can see what he's getting at.
      That is exactly what my premise was. In May I think you have either a good starter or a very good set up guy. I am not convinced Revere is a major league player, certainly not one on a good team. Offensively, he has a career .650 OPS in 1,300 at bats, as he only has 45 extra base hits. His career OBP (.325) is too low for a lead-off hitter.

      And his arm is a huge limitation, I don't know if they keep a stat about runners advancing, but he would have to lead the category or be close. So I think he is a #9 hitting center fielder on a poor team. Clearly he had no value on the Twins, you can't have a guy like that in LF or RF.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      Guys learn new pitches all the time. Johan Santana was a FB/Slider guy when we got him. He added a plus change at age 23 and, if I recall correctly, he became a pretty good pitcher.

      When talking about guys developing after a certain age, we normally focus on the limitations of their bodies. You don't expect a guy to add velo after 24. But adding or refining a breaking pitch is actually quite common. It's not like he doesn't have one. He has two. But they're "fringy" to use Jonathan Mayo's term.
      OK but changeup guys can relieve too, they don't have to start.

      Obviously May should continue working to improve all his pitches. If he is going to figure out an effective breaking pitch it had better happen yesterday because as you say his velo is only going to drop which will start to impact the effectiveness of his best pitch (the changeup).

      Personally I think when a 23 year old posts the same season in AA as he did at 22, there is a high probability he has reached his ceiling, that being relief. Hope I'm proved wrong though.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      OK but changeup guys can relieve too, they don't have to start.

      Obviously May should continue working to improve all his pitches. If he is going to figure out an effective breaking pitch it had better happen yesterday because as you say his velo is only going to drop which will start to impact the effectiveness of his best pitch (the changeup).

      Personally I think when a 23 year old posts the same season in AA as he did at 22, there is a high probability he has reached his ceiling, that being relief. Hope I'm proved wrong though.
      I didn't say his velo is only going to drop, just that it is not likely to increase. Guys with his frame are known to retain their velo into their 30s. The fact that his velo stays consistent into the seventh inning is an indicator that he is likely to do so, barring injury. That, combined with spotty control, makes him a much better fit for starting than relieving.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
      That is exactly what my premise was. In May I think you have either a good starter or a very good set up guy. I am not convinced Revere is a major league player, certainly not one on a good team. Offensively, he has a career .650 OPS in 1,300 at bats, as he only has 45 extra base hits. His career OBP (.325) is too low for a lead-off hitter.

      And his arm is a huge limitation, I don't know if they keep a stat about runners advancing, but he would have to lead the category or be close. So I think he is a #9 hitting center fielder on a poor team. Clearly he had no value on the Twins, you can't have a guy like that in LF or RF.
      Ben Revere was not viewed as a guy with no future in the OF though....they traded a starting OFer with a positive WAR (you might want to look at defense too) in the majors, and so far have a AA prospect who did not progress, and an injured MLB pitcher that posted a negative WAR. That's not a good return, yet. To say they have a positve return already is strange to me. The Twins lost year 1 of the trade. There really is no way to debate that. If May doesn't play here, and Worley doesn't....well, they will lose year two of the deal also. Even if Worley does, if Revere is healthy and plays like 2012, I doubt Worley matches him. Doesn't mean I've given up on May, but I don't know how people can even come close to claiming with any certainty the Twins are ahead in this deal.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      Personally I think when a 23 year old posts the same season in AA as he did at 22, there is a high probability he has reached his ceiling, that being relief. Hope I'm proved wrong though.
      Typically, I'd agree, but I wouldn't discount the organizational change. I'm sure the Twins' protocol for May's development asked him to do some things that made it necessary for him to repeat the league and held down his results.

      If May can stay healthy and even produce league-average results--that has a lot more value coming out of the rotation at 150-180 innings than say better-than-average results at 80 innings coming out of the bullpen.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Ben Revere was not viewed as a guy with no future in the OF though....they traded a starting OFer with a positive WAR (you might want to look at defense too) in the majors, and so far have a AA prospect who did not progress, and an injured MLB pitcher that posted a negative WAR. That's not a good return, yet. To say they have a positve return already is strange to me. The Twins lost year 1 of the trade. There really is no way to debate that. If May doesn't play here, and Worley doesn't....well, they will lose year two of the deal also. Even if Worley does, if Revere is healthy and plays like 2012, I doubt Worley matches him. Doesn't mean I've given up on May, but I don't know how people can even come close to claiming with any certainty the Twins are ahead in this deal.
      The Twins traded an organizational strength and a player who had likely out performed his ability for an organizational need (young starting pitching). That the deal hasn't totally panned out for the Twins (or the Phillies) doesn't mean it wasn't a good trade at the time.
    1. TRex's Avatar
      TRex -
      I don't want to give the impression that I am overly optimistic about May, but his secondary stats improved a lot between '12 and '13. Specifically, his FIP decreased from 4.88 in '12 to 3.78 in '13 DESPITE having an inversely proportional BABIP of .292 vs. .329.

      At the risk of making people 'throw up in their mouths a little bit', I would be happy if we could get as much out of May as we got from another Phillie trade (Carlos Silva), who is vilified despite out-performing his salary by >300% during his 4-year career with the Twins (FG value of $31M vs. actual salary of $9.6M).
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      The Twins traded an organizational strength and a player who had likely out performed his ability for an organizational need (young starting pitching). That the deal hasn't totally panned out for the Twins (or the Phillies) doesn't mean it wasn't a good trade at the time.
      This. Last year, the Philies got more WAR than the Twins, obviously. This year, it could be a wash. Next year, I expect the pendulum to swing the Twins way. There is a bit of a timing problem. We sure could have used Revere in the outfield last year. But he is not the long-term solution. So when the Phillies offered that deal, we could not pass it up, regardless of short-term needs. I don't recall anyone on this board who thought the Phillies got the better of the deal when it was made. It just didn't go as well as hoped, yet.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      The Twins traded an organizational strength and a player who had likely out performed his ability for an organizational need (young starting pitching). That the deal hasn't totally panned out for the Twins (or the Phillies) doesn't mean it wasn't a good trade at the time.
      I didn't say it was, I said there is no way to say they have a positive return yet, as someone here is saying. And, it is only a good trade if it works.
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      And, it is only a good trade if it works.
      I disagree. There's a variety of reasons why players succeed and fail that go well beyond what a team can anticipate.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      The Twins traded an organizational strength and a player who had likely out performed his ability for an organizational need (young starting pitching). That the deal hasn't totally panned out for the Twins (or the Phillies) doesn't mean it wasn't a good trade at the time.

      So your saying the Twins couldnt have used Ben last year ? What was out leadoff OBP last year, how many times did we have catchers in the outfield? There was a need for Revere last year and posibly this year as well
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      I disagree. There's a variety of reasons why players succeed and fail that go well beyond what a team can anticipate.
      Agreed on some of that. If a guy with no injury history gets hurt, that's not the team's fault. But if May is just bad, and Worley is just bad, then that is on the scouts and the GM, isn't it? If not, why does it matter who the GM and scouts are, if they aren't accountable for their decisions.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by TRex View Post
      I don't want to give the impression that I am overly optimistic about May, but his secondary stats improved a lot between '12 and '13. Specifically, his FIP decreased from 4.88 in '12 to 3.78 in '13 DESPITE having an inversely proportional BABIP of .292 vs. .329.
      BABIP wouldn't affect FIP one way or the other since its only measuring Ks BBs and HRs.

      But true his K, BB, and HR rates all ticked positively in 2013. But May has always had reverse platoon splits (either because fo the strength of his changeup or weakness of his breaking pitches - probably both). And in 2013 he faced a higher proportion of LHBs.

      Might not explain all of the improvement but probably some.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Agreed on some of that. If a guy with no injury history gets hurt, that's not the team's fault. But if May is just bad, and Worley is just bad, then that is on the scouts and the GM, isn't it? If not, why does it matter who the GM and scouts are, if they aren't accountable for their decisions.
      This is a good point. Just because it's hindsight doesn't mean it wasn't a bad trade if May and Worley wash out and Revere sticks around. You can say the idea/method was good at the time, but something went wrong in the deal if it didn't pan out. You can still say that without totally trashing the thought process.
    1. OldTimeTwinkie's Avatar
      OldTimeTwinkie -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      People should listen to the tremendous interview that the Talk to Contact podcast guys had with Trevor May on Wednesday night. They asked some great questions and got into his mind. It sounds like he learned a ton from his time in the AFL. He made some great points and gave great insight into what he's thinking and working on.

      http://talk2contact.podomatic.com/en...20_07_22-08_00
      Was fortunite to see Twins prospects in the AFL and hate to say it but compared to the competition out there we are overating our prospects. May will look like Liam Hendricks if he gets to big league.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      So your saying the Twins couldnt have used Ben last year ? What was out leadoff OBP last year, how many times did we have catchers in the outfield? There was a need for Revere last year and posibly this year as well
      I hated the Revere trade, because I like him and he is one of those charismatic good energy guys. That said, if the Twins had Revere instead of Hicks starting at CF, how many more games would have won? 27 more games? Because that is what they needed to get to the post-season. So not much harm there...
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      I hated the Revere trade, because I like him and he is one of those charismatic good energy guys. That said, if the Twins had Revere instead of Hicks starting at CF, how many more games would have won? 27 more games? Because that is what they needed to get to the post-season. So not much harm there...
      Agreeing keeping lil Ben would not have gained us 27 additional wins, but keeping a few of the 22 players we have let go in the last 4 years and maybe signing a few quality free agents to add to the mix could have gained us 25-30 additional wins, As for Bens future with the Twins,he would still be contributing this year and next as well , but yes I understand that 1 player doesnt make a championship team, but when you continue to down grade at every chance and have a 22 man turnover and continully to seek 1 dimenstional players because they are cheaper , well thats how you have 4 consecutive years of 90+ losses
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Ben Revere was not viewed as a guy with no future in the OF though....they traded a starting OFer with a positive WAR (you might want to look at defense too) in the majors, and so far have a AA prospect who did not progress, and an injured MLB pitcher that posted a negative WAR. That's not a good return, yet. To say they have a positve return already is strange to me. The Twins lost year 1 of the trade. There really is no way to debate that. If May doesn't play here, and Worley doesn't....well, they will lose year two of the deal also. Even if Worley does, if Revere is healthy and plays like 2012, I doubt Worley matches him. Doesn't mean I've given up on May, but I don't know how people can even come close to claiming with any certainty the Twins are ahead in this deal.

      As cited before, Ben Revere was one of the top 5 hitters in baseball from his reinsertion into the Phillies starting lineup in late-April until his season-ending injury in July.

      It is a suspension of disbelief to think that Worley is somehow going to all of a sudden regain his form from 3 years ago. I like May's cerebral approach to improving his performance as a potential MLB starter, but the jury is still out on if he can ever reach his ceiling. If he eventually becomes a Matt Guerrier-type with Worley getting released for ineffectiveness, how will that justify that the Twins won the trade?
    1. TRex's Avatar
      TRex -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      BABIP wouldn't affect FIP one way or the other since its only measuring Ks BBs and HRs.

      But true his K, BB, and HR rates all ticked positively in 2013. But May has always had reverse platoon splits (either because of the strength of his changeup or weakness of his breaking pitches - probably both). And in 2013 he faced a higher proportion of LHBs.

      Might not explain all of the improvement but probably some.
      Good point... I should have de-linked them and said his ERA decreased from 4.87 to 4.51 despite his BABIP increasing 37 points AND his FIP had a more impressive decrease from 4.88 to 3.78.
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