• 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. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      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
    1. SgtSchmidt11's Avatar
      SgtSchmidt11 -
      I wonder if May could be a Swarzak like pitcher out of the bullpen. Starter's endurance with Reliever's stuff?
    1. Old Twins Cap's Avatar
      Old Twins Cap -
      Sometimes these bigger guys just take longer to get their bodies working in synch. In basketball, we used to say the big guys would not get full coordination until their late twenties. Twins fans just have to hope that a guy like May, and even Meyer, develop more consistency and repeatability in their delivery and with their pitches.

      But, the one thing you cannot ever underrate or discount: how competitive is he? When there's runners on base and nobody out, does he hitch at his belt, grit his teeth and go for a K or does he start to think, "Oh, oh, not again, well, if it doesn't work out, I can always pitch in relief somewhere".

      It's old fashioned, but the will to win is what makes an athlete special. You either got that or you don't. And no pitching coach anywhere will ever be able to teach that.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      FB/Change guys should be starters. He just needs to develop a better breaking ball. And, of course, more consistent control. In 2013, he'd get into a groove and throw two or three really good games. In the next game, he'd come out and walk the first two guys and just never get into a rhythm. You can't teach velocity. Give him a year at AAA to work on a more repeatable delivery and a better breaking ball and he could be a factor in 2015.
    1. Monkeypaws's Avatar
      Monkeypaws -
      There wasn't dramatic progress, but coming to a new team, he did make marginal improvements in every statistical category, more innings pitched, lower ERA, fewer walks, and more strikeouts. One step at a time I guess.
    1. Siehbiscuit's Avatar
      Siehbiscuit -
      If you look deeper at his #'s when he does give up runs they cme in bunches. Like @cwmathewson said, "he'd get into a groove and throw two or three really good games. In the next game, he'd come out and walk the first two guys and just never get into a rhythm." He needs to get the consistency thing figured out and he could be a low to mid-3 ERA guy. Nolan Ryan walked a lot of guys too. So I'm not too worried about walks, but the unraveling with guys on base and minimizing the damage. Guys like Verlander, Kershaw and Hernandez (High K guys with great control) are HOF material. May doesn't have to be that for him to have a role on this team.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by SgtSchmidt11 View Post
      I wonder if May could be a Swarzak like pitcher out of the bullpen. Starter's endurance with Reliever's stuff?
      I don't get the Swarzak comp, May has better stuff. Throws a lot harder. I don't recall Swarzak ever striking out a batter an inning in high A - AAA. I think we give May another year as a starter to get his BB/9 around 3.5. If he is walking too many people I would think he could be a 7th or 8th inning guy. If he throws 94-95 over 6-7 innings I would think he could dial it up to 97-98 for one inning. Either way, a good return for Ben Revere.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      FB/Change guys should be starters. He just needs to develop a better breaking ball. And, of course, more consistent control. In 2013, he'd get into a groove and throw two or three really good games. In the next game, he'd come out and walk the first two guys and just never get into a rhythm. You can't teach velocity. Give him a year at AAA to work on a more repeatable delivery and a better breaking ball and he could be a factor in 2015.
      At 24 I wouldn't hold my breath. Also Tyler Clippard says hello.

      edit: To clarify I wouldn't hold my breath on May developing a good breaking pitch and then holding down a rotation job. I agree with Nick that relief is more likely his future.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      I like May quite a bit more than most. I think he'll end up being a much better major leaguer than minor leaguer. I love the durability.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      No return for Revere until he makes the majors....which looks at least a year away, if not more at this point. Stuff does not always translate into outcomes, and so far, I am less convinced than I was at the time of the trade, since he showed little/no progress at AA last year. Not giving up on him, but not as convinced as I was at the time of the deal he's a starter.
    1. oldguy10's Avatar
      oldguy10 -
      I do not think we can yet say that May is a good return for Revere who was injured last season and may yet be one hell of a leadoff hitter for the Phillies. And if May turns into a relief pitcher there is really no comparison between the two. Let's wait on this one before we pass judgment, okay?
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Siehbiscuit View Post
      Nolan Ryan walked a lot of guys too. So I'm not too worried about walks, but the unraveling with guys on base and minimizing the damage. Guys like Verlander, Kershaw and Hernandez (High K guys with great control) are HOF material. May doesn't have to be that for him to have a role on this team.
      Not being Ryan is a great reason to be worried about the walks. Walks have a way of unraveling pitchers. Walking guys with guys on base have a way of unraveling pitchers even more. Of course walks are more of a symptom than a cause. Not having command of your pitches have a way of unraveling anyone. Undoubtedly walks are the reason his ERA is what it is and why he has not progressed. Liriano is the guy you should compare him to. His successful years were much more a reflection of his walk rate rather than his strikeout rate. He struck out fewer this year per nine with Pitt than he did the two prior years with the Twins but he walked a lot fewer. Ryan had a spectacular curveball to go with a spectacular fastball as well as a larger strike zone. If May gets anywhere it is because he gains command of his pitches which will be reflected with fewer walks.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by Old Twins Cap View Post
      But, the one thing you cannot ever underrate or discount: how competitive is he? When there's runners on base and nobody out, does he hitch at his belt, grit his teeth and go for a K or does he start to think, "Oh, oh, not again, well, if it doesn't work out, I can always pitch in relief somewhere".
      It's not like we have to completely guess about this. We can't know what goes on between his ears, but we do have results to go by. I know of this source for public consumption:

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/mi...=pgl&year=2013

      There may be other for-pay sites with more. This one indicates that May gives up a lower OPS-against with men on base than bases-empty.

      No evidence, there, to suggest his high ERA is from a lack of will to win.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Old Twins Cap View Post
      Sometimes these bigger guys just take longer to get their bodies working in synch. In basketball, we used to say the big guys would not get full coordination until their late twenties. Twins fans just have to hope that a guy like May, and even Meyer, develop more consistency and repeatability in their delivery and with their pitches.

      But, the one thing you cannot ever underrate or discount: how competitive is he? When there's runners on base and nobody out, does he hitch at his belt, grit his teeth and go for a K or does he start to think, "Oh, oh, not again, well, if it doesn't work out, I can always pitch in relief somewhere".

      It's old fashioned, but the will to win is what makes an athlete special. You either got that or you don't. And no pitching coach anywhere will ever be able to teach that.
      I agree with your whole post but the most important is the last sentence of the 1st paragraph. Maddux or Morris could have been 10 times as gritty and competitive as they were but would have failed if they couldn't throw the ball where they wanted. Also, I often wonder how much of perception of grit is based on appearances. Scot Baker had the reputation of being a folder and lacking grit mainly cuz that's the way he looked on the mound but he was a terrific pitcher down the stretch in several pennant races. Locate your pitches and it doesn't matter how little grit you have. Throw them down the middle and it doesn't matter how much grit you have.
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      It's not like we have to completely guess about this. We can't know what goes on between his ears, but we do have results to go by. I know of this source for public consumption:

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/mi...=pgl&year=2013

      There may be other for-pay sites with more. This one indicates that May gives up a lower OPS-against with men on base than bases-empty.

      No evidence, there, to suggest his high ERA is from a lack of will to win.
      There is a lot that goes into the psychology of the game so I am simplifying but in the long run the guy that hitches his pants and grits his teeth to keep guys off the base in the first place is going to be more successful than the guy that does so after guys are on. Mays ERA appears to be an issue of command and control rather than grit or competitiveness.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      No return for Revere until he makes the majors....which looks at least a year away, if not more at this point.
      That's the nature of trading for prospects. If you want a high ceiling guy who is also ready for the majors, you don't get him for Ben Revere.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by ashburyjohn View Post
      That's the nature of trading for prospects. If you want a high ceiling guy who is also ready for the majors, you don't get him for Ben Revere.
      Sorry to disagree, as soon as the trade was made I looked at Worleys numbers and thought , hey this is a pretty darn good trade, then after chatting on the Phillies site , I learned that he was twice hurt and never the same after his 1st stint on the DL, and looking at Mays numbers it was obvious he stumbled his 1st year in AA and listening to the experts that his future was in the pen , I started to wonder just how good this trade was .....
    1. TRex's Avatar
      TRex -
      The thing I like about May is that people have reported he maintains fastball velocity deep into games. He could really take off if he could gain some consistency with his curveball, which has, in the past, been a good pitch for him.

      Back in 2012, when he was the Phillies #1 prospect, BA said his curveball was "..his No. 2 pitch is a 74-78 mph downer curveball, which was his best weapon in high school, but he overthrows it at times".
    1. Boone's Avatar
      Boone -
      Trevor May actually made big in-season improvements in 2013. Just take a look at his numbers in April and May vs. the rest of the year:

      April and May 2013: 60.1 IP 7.9 K/9 4.8 BB/9 1.7 K/BB
      June on : 95 IP 10 K/9 3.3 BB/9 3.0 K/BB

      That's a big step forward. I'm optimistic that May will have a breakthrough 2014 in AAA.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      At 24 I wouldn't hold my breath. Also Tyler Clippard says hello.

      edit: To clarify I wouldn't hold my breath on May developing a good breaking pitch and then holding down a rotation job. I agree with Nick that relief is more likely his future.
      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.
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