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TD Top Prospects: #9 Trevor May

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Age: 23 (DOB: 09/23/1989)
2012 Stats (AA): 10-13, 149.2 IP, 4.87 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 151/78 K/ BB
ETA: 2014

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On paper, Trevor May has all the makings of an elite pitcher. At six-foot-five and 215 pounds, the 22-year-old right-hander has the stature of a legit workhorse.

“Just his build, he is built just like a pitcher,” remarked Dusty Wathan, May’s manager at Reading (AA) last year. “If you were going to build a starting pitcher you would start with a body like that.”

Beyond his physical presence, May fires low-to-mid 90s bullets and has a decent curveball, a developing changeup and has been working on a hard slider.

Based on this pedigree, May would find himself a frequent guest in the top five when Baseball America would generate the Phillies’ annual Top 10 Prospects list. In fact, heading into the 2012 season, May was the baseball periodical’s choice for Philadelphia’s number one prospect. Sure, an assist goes to a Phillie farm system which had been harvested to allow May to ascend to the head of the class but the fact remained he got there by doing what he has done so well: strike fools out.

Of course, along with the high totals of missed bats comes an unhealthy amount of missed strike zones as well. His mechanics reportedly have been inconsistent and off-balanced leading to the heartburn-inducing walk totals. After five years in the Phillies’ system, the organization may have soured on the idea that he would ever be able to make the adjustments necessary to reach his projected potential.

Void of power-armed pitchers in their system, the Minnesota Twins are willing to gamble that they will see more of the former and less of the latter after they traded Ben Revere – one of their own Baseball America top five prospect graduates – to acquire May.

The Good
In 2011, May led the Florida State League (high-A) in strikeouts with 208 in 151 innings pitched. To put this into context, in the past 12 years only he and Tampa starter Matt Moore (208 in 2010) have registered more than 200 strikeouts in that league. May would follow that performance by leading the Eastern League too, a league in which he was two years younger than the average age.

Based on those figures, it is hard to not dwell on the potential upside. What would be a good comparable? May envisions himself to be a Matt Cain-type of pitcher, as he told reporters at TwinsFest:

“I kind of emulate or think of myself similar to, and if I were as good as this person, I’d be doing pretty well: Matt Cain. Similar stuff. Similar velocities. Similar movement. I throw a big curveball. He doesn’t. But we’re pretty similar in kind of how we approach games. All I’ve got to do is get his command and I think I’ll be OK.”
After six consecutive seasons of 200+ innings and ERA+ of 126 in that time, certainly any team would take a Matt Cain duplicate.

The Bad
“All I’ve got to do is get his command and I think I’ll be OK,” May had self-evaluated. Will that be like Delmon Young saying: “All I’ve got to do is just stop swinging so much and I think I’ll be OK”?

After making improvements to his control-based numbers in 2011, May’s walk totals trended the other way in 2012. So, in addition to leading the Eastern League in strikeouts, May also took home the dubious honor for most free passes issued (78).

Last year the walks seemed to sneak up on him. After posting an 88-to-39 strikeout-to-walk ratio through the end of June, May sudden posted a 21-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the month of July, completely skewing his numbers. To make matters worse his home run total took a significant jump from his previous season (8 in 151.1 innings with Clearwater) to this past year (22 in 149.2 innings with Reading) as well.

The Bottom Line
May has the stuff to quickly ascend in the Twins system – especially given the relatively lack of talent ahead of him on the depth chart. Still, he has plenty of refining to do. While the Twins have been short on strikeout pitchers, as an organization they still thrive on precision and will likely want to see improvements out of May in that department.

[TD’s Top Ten Prospects: #10: Max Kepler.]

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