Fall From Ace: Scouting Trevor May
Scouting Phillies righty, Trevor May, this year was not easy. A whiff inducing howitzer one start, a frustrating, homer prone mess the next, May entered the 2012 season as the Phillies’ consensus #1 prospect and leaves it having taken an enigmatic step backward. It’s not an insurmountable retardation of the Washingtonian’s development, especially when you remind yourself that May only realistically projected as a mid-rotation starter anyway. Of course, a full page write-up and action shot in Baseball America’s annual handbook will often alter the layperson’s perception of a player, no matter how uninspiring a system for which he is the masthead. There was more hype surrounding May this year than was warranted and, as such, his tumultuous season feels worse than it actually was. It’s time we take a step back, forget about May’s pre-season status as the top dog in the Philly system, and have a context-free look at what there is to work with. That’s what I’ve got for you here.
Trevor May looks mighty impressive in his uniform. A broad-shouldered 6’5″, he has the frame of an inning-eating horse. There’s no projection left, but as May has filled out nicely. He’s only listed at 215lbs but trust me, he’s carrying more than that and he carries it quite well. May ‘s athleticism is less impressive. He doesn’t always repeat his delivery well and his command suffers as a result. He cuts himself off a bit before he gets to his 3/4s delivery, an arm angle which stifles some of the downhill plane you’d like to see s 6’5″ pitcher get on the ball. Onto the stuff…
May mostly pitches with a low-90s fastball that will touch as high as 94mph. I did see him kiss 96mph several times in a start early this season but I didn’t see that much heat again all year. May will incorporate a two-seamer every now and then ( it usually hums in around 89mph) but it’s not much of a weapon right now. While previous reports indicate healthy armside run, from my vantage point May’s fastball looks straight. And boy, does he leave it up in the zone a lot. Many of the whiffs May induces come from high fastballs that big league hitters will either scoff at or launch into orbit. It’s been an issue of May’s for a while now and it hasn’t been corrected or even improved.
May’s stable of secondary pitches is headlined by a good looking curveball. It’s usually sharp with good depth and breaks late. He can bury it and throw it for strikes and he adds and subtracts from it well. It usually sits upper-70s but he’ll take some off and throw a big, loopy curve in the low 70s once in a while. I can’t decide if I’m pleased he’s learned this little trick or concerned because he thought he had to. There’s one HUGE problem with May’s curveball. He throws it from a different arm slot than his other pitches. He’s 3/4s for everything except the curve for which his arm becomes more vertically oriented upon acceleration. As such, it’s easy to pick up out of his hand. This needs to be corrected yesterday.
May’s changeup is bad. In his Eastern League Semifinal start he threw just one handsome changeup through 5.1 innings of work. He often leaves it up in the zone, same as the fastball, and it rarely exhibits the fade/action you look for en un buen cambio. May also throws a slider/cutter type thing in the 82-86mph range. It’s short and unrefined but it exists.
So what exactly do we have here? In short it’s a pitcher with an ideal build and above average velocity with some fatal flaws in his secondary stuff and whose control/command development has stagnated. I wouldn’t be surprised if May began next season back at Reading, though if I were in charge, I’d send him to Triple-A where more seasoned hitters won’t let him get away with the stuff he still mostly gets away with against Eastern League bats. Maybe adversity and failure in front of minor league baseball’s biggest crowds will catalyze development. If he’s an abject failure next season, maybe I start thinking about penning him. Regardless, May’s ceiling is mostly the same (folks, I saw 96mph, a plus curve and a plus change at various times this year. A mid-rotation starter is in there somewhere and it’s still his ceiling) but the chances he gets there are now minute.
I could go on forever about May because, most of the time, prospect failures are far more interesting than successes, but 800 words is enough. You’ll see a new name atop the Phillies organizational prospect rankings next year but that does not mean it’s time to give up on Trevor May. It’s just time to over hype somebody else.