Please Don’t Get Sexy: Trevor May

Last October I published a report here on former Phillies prospect, Trevor May (which you should probably take 5 minutes to read before you take in this piece. It’s very relevant later on). Once the top prospect in the system, May’s 2012 season was a rocky, frustrating campaign which saw his prospect status suffer a precipitous decline. May was traded during the offseason to the Minnesota Twins as part of the Ben Revere trade. On Saturday, I had the opportunity to see a new incarnation of Trevor May, a pitcher who is covered in the developmental fingerprints of the Minnesota system.

At first glance it’s clear that Trevor May is physically different. Most notably, his lower half has gotten thicker and heavier. Already an impressively large young man as a Phillie, May’s thighs and legs are now officially massive and his overall build is  tumescent. I wrote last year that I didn’t think May had any “positive projection” remaining. which essentially means that I thought he was done putting on good weight and anything that gets added on as he ages wouldn’t help him (though it wouldn’t necessarily hurt him, either). May’s legs have gotten bigger and there don’t seem to be any effects, ill or agreeable, as a result. I do worry now that he’ll get even bigger and venture into Sidney Ponson territory with his body which could suck away some of his athleticism and strike throwing ability.

Update: Trevor May has reached out to me and assured me that he’s not getting fat. In fact, he says he’s dropped 15lbs (which for most of us would be a lot but for someone of Trevor’s considerable size it’s not noticeable). I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt but I won’t delete the previous paragraph because I’d have to delete the word “tumescent.” It’s likely he’s lost the weight in places other than his legs and so those gams of his may just look bigger. Or the scouts sitting on his start and I could just be seeing things. Either way, please carry on.

Before I get into some very interesting and important material regarding May, let’s quickly discuss his stuff. May’s fastball sat 92-94mph for most of his start. It’s still a bit lifeless and flat but he’s doing a much better job of keeping it down in the zone than he was as last year. He still lost some velocity in his latter innings of work but wasn’t down into the 88-90mph range like he was in 2012 (perhaps the extra meat on the legs is helping with that, though he did lose his release point consistency in about the sixth inning so stamina is still an issue in some regard). May’s curveball velocity range is the same (some in the upper 70s and some as low as 73mph when he really subtracts from it) but the bite on it has vanished. He didn’t throw but maybe one average curve during his entire start. His slider, however, has improved and become his best secondary pitch. It moves late and tilts enough that I think it’s going to be an effective big league pitch and might be a true above average weapon one day. Velocity wise, slidey sat 83-85mph and touched 87mph once. May is using the slider in a variety of ways, in on the hands of lefties, away from righties, pitching backwards with it, all sorts of things. More on the slider later. His changeup is still poor, a mid 80s duck that he leaves up in the zone far too often. It will be punished. Your pitch grades are as follows:

Fastball – 60

Curveball – 40

Slider – 50

Changeup – 40

Control – 50

May is a 6’5” drop and drive pitcher. He’s always been that, but to me it seems as though his deep bend has become more pronounced than before. He gets maddeningly low for scouts who like to see downhill plane (though, as Clint Hulsey pointed out in the comment section here, its importance might be overstated) and basically pitches like a 5’11” guy.  May’s making up for some of that with his new arm angle, an over-the-top release which is worlds different than the three-quarters slot he showed during his Phillies tenure.

If you recall my post on May from last year I focused heavily on the arm slot variation he displayed on his pitches. An excerpt from that post:

“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.”

Now, May comes straight over the top for his fastball, curveball and changeup but has retained his lower arm slot for his slider (so he can get his hand around the side of the ball to create the horizontal spin he wants). Ironically, the sharp, late breaking deuce May showed last year has disappeared and his slider has improved and become his best secondary pitch. It’s a dastardly thing what the baseball gods have done to Trevor May. Big league hitters will pick up on this and be able to identify the slider rather easily out of May’s hand, limiting the pitch’s effectiveness.

I feel better about Trevor May now than I did a year ago (mostly because he’s keeping the fastball down with regularity) and am sold on him as a future big leaguer. I see a #4 starter if the changeup improves at least a little bit or if for some reason the plus curveball is somehow resurrected. He’s a #5 if it does not. A useful piece to be sure, but nothing worth fretting over.

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11 comments

  1. Phillie697

    August 12, 2013 12:05 PM

    92-94 mph fastball, a good slider, and trouble with stamina… Sounds like a future reliever to me.

  2. Andrew Cleveland Alexander

    August 12, 2013 02:26 PM

    Nice report.

    I hate to be that guy, but I had a hard time, getting past the word “tumescent.” I’m not sure it means what you think it means, unless his overall build now resembles something … Weiner-esque.

  3. Will

    August 12, 2013 03:37 PM

    First, thanks for the great post. Always enjoy your pieces.

    Second, you’re in good company using “tumescent” as Keith Law used the same word to describe the Astros’ farm system recently. insider.espn.go.com/blog/keith-law/post?id=1029

  4. Eric Longenhagen

    August 12, 2013 03:40 PM

    It’s just fun to say. I get sick of writing “chubby” or “doughy” all the time. Actually, doughy is fun.

  5. Ryne Duren

    August 12, 2013 05:16 PM

    “tumescent” Eric! way too funny man.

  6. SteveH

    August 13, 2013 09:52 AM

    Eric,

    I have kind of a long in depth question. What does it take for a guy to really become a top tier pitcher? Now let me explain what I mean because I know that question doesn’t really get what I am wondering. I guy like May, you say he tops out at a number 3 starter if lucky. What can a prospect do to change that outlook? Can I guy bare down, work really hard and become something great or do things like that not really happen?

  7. Eric Longenhagen

    August 13, 2013 10:20 AM

    This is a complex question and I’ll do my best to answer.

    Typically, scouts will (and I’ll do this, too) keep in mind a player’s extreme ceiling as well as a more realistic look at what that player will become. For May, his ceiling is still a #2 starter. He’s got the plus fastball, we’ve seen a plus curveball in the past, we’ve seen a decent slider now and it’s totally reasonable to be optimistic about his changeup developing to become viable. If everything, I mean everything, comes together, then he’s a #2. Realistically, that won’t happen. He can work as hard as possible to make it happen and makeup, especially for an outsider like me, is really difficult to pin down. And it’s an important component. That’s where a lot gets lost for me.

    The formula to create a top tier pitcher doesn’t exist. It’s not like some sort of brownie recipe or checklist (I totally drooled just on myself when I typed “Brownie Recipe”). Guys like Jered Weaver can out perform stuff because of insane command or deception of some combination of that, or briliiant sequencing, or pitches that compliment eachother beautifully. It can get weird. You almost have to toss those guys out because they’re so rare and freaky. It’s a hard question for me to answer.

  8. SteveH

    August 13, 2013 10:59 AM

    Thanks Eric. I knew it was a complex question with a complex answer. Your answer is what I believed when I asked it. It is such a crapshoot for a guy to turn sexy.

  9. Phillie697

    August 13, 2013 12:09 PM

    @EL,

    Correct me if I’m wrong though, but I get the sense most teams don’t go out there trying to develop “top tier” pitchers; they are just happy to find a starter, any starter, from their talent pool, and if one of them turns into a top-tier pitcher, that’s just icing on the cake. Am I not correct?

  10. Chris S.

    August 14, 2013 10:30 AM

    @Eric

    I was watching Ethan Martin last night and I was curious about his curveball which looks like a strikeout pitch. It seemed like the braves didn’t swing at the really close curves just below the zone was that just good discipline or is Martin tipping the pitch. Also do you think he will ever be able to repeat his delivery to reach his full potential?

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