BY DON SCOTT
Reading’s Trevor May was named the Eastern League Player of the Month for April, for his 5-0 record, a pretty good start in light of the fact that he was coming off the Paul Owens Award as the best pitcher in the Phillies minor league system last season.
A year ago, the hard-throwing right-hander went 10-8 with a Florida State League-leading 208 strikeouts, and a 3.63 ERA in 27 starts, stats that earned him the honor of being named the top Phillies’ prospect at the end of 2011.
“It’s hard to say that being ranked above other guys doesn’t put more pressure on me, teammates and the organization,” said May during a recent sit-down. “Certain things come along with that, but in order to deal with it I’m trying to treat it as kind of a fun thing and honor rather than defining me as a player. A lot of things happened to put me in that position and it could’ve easily been a lot of other guys if things had gone differently last year.
“The ranking is just something on paper, based on stats and everything that’s in the past,” May continued. “The only thing that matters now is what I’m doing today. It’s something my parents can be proud about and my friends think is cool.”
Admitting he was a pretty good basketball player in high school, when it came decision time, baseball won out. But even that was a last minute choice about his future after graduation.
“It was 50-50 for me until about 10 minutes before I signed with the Phillies, about either going to college or signing (a professional contract),” said May. “I was valedictorian in high school and wanted to go to Stanford to get a degree in architecture, and that was the plan until baseball season my senior year. Honestly, being drafted never crossed my mind. I just assumed I’d go to college and play ball there, get a degree and hopefully be drafted after that.
“I grew a little bit my senior year and had a really good season,” added May. “My standard answer to who I would’ve preferred to have drafted me is Seattle, to be close to home. And that’s a big reason why I was going to go to the University of Washington, because I liked living in the northwest and didn’t want to leave my friends.”
He added: “I’m definitely glad I’m with the Phillies, one of the top organizations in developing talent all the way up to the big leagues. I know I’m in an organization that wants to win and at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about.”
May said he had been mentally getting prepared to reach Double-A for sometime. He is definitely happy with the way he has responded so far, where hitters are more select, the speed of the game is quicker and there are other differences.
“There are times when you’re pitching in certain situations that you didn’t in lower levels,” said May. “The play in the field is also at higher levels and of course the pitching you’re going against is better. Other than that it is just facing guys I saw before who are making adjustments just like me.”
May’s 208 strikeouts last summer were the most by a Phillies minor league pitcher since at least 1980, which is as far back as individual Phillies farm system records go.
“The scouting reports always mention control or command issues and I don’t see myself that way at all,” May pointed out. “There are steps to take to throw more strikes, to get ahead in the count and get outs earlier to put me in a position to get outs quicker, so I don’t get into deep counts and don’t have to throw all those extra pitches that might result in walks. I’ve changed to an outlook where I can throw all my pitches in any count. So much of baseball has to do with confidence and fine hand-to-eye movement that just believing you can do it goes a long way.
“My ground-ball-out-to-fly-ball-out ratio hasn’t been great, so I’m working on that,” May continued. “Ground balls are much harder for me to get for some reason, so anytime I get more ground ball outs than fly ball ones I’m happy. Pitches per innings or efficiency are huge because that means you can go deeper in the game. I’d like to become a more rounded pitcher in that respect, and sometimes a lot of strikeouts get in the way of that.”
He continued: “I’ve heard the term ‘effectively wild’ thrown around about me, and that’s good to a point. But if you’re out after six innings I feel you’re not giving everything you can. If those two things I mentioned are going in the right direction then I feel my outing is a good one. It’s important that when you need to get a strikeout you can. That is a skill set I do pretty well, but now I’m trying to get a ground ball when I need that.”