Name: Trevor May
Notable 2011 Stats: 3.63 ERA, 2.57 FIP, 8 HRA, 67 BB, 208 K, and 36% GB% in 151 1/3 IP with Clearwater (High-A)
Why He’s This High: May’s strikeout numbers speak for themselves: he struck out 208 batters in just 151 1/3 innings this year, and that was nothing new for the righthander–he’s put up K/9 rates of 11 or better each of the last three seasons.
May was particularly filthy in the second half of the season, when he struck out a ridiculous 120 batters in 80 2/3 innings while walking just 32. That’s a testament to the big righthander’s durability, and he projects as a workhorse thanks to his big 6’5″ frame.
May throws a 90-95 mph fastball with excellent life up in the zone, and he finishes batters off with a good hard curveball. His changeup is a solid third pitch, and the prowess of his offspeed stuff allowed him to strike out far more lefties (116) than righties (92) this year.
Why He’s This Low: May’s always had some trouble throwing strikes, and while he’s making progress in that regard, he’s still a bit wild at times. He was demoted from High-A in 2010 after walking 61 batters in 70 innings, so it ultimately took him two years to get through the level. While his 4 BB/9 rate of 2011 will play just fine as long as he’s racking up the K’s, it’s an open question as to how effective he’ll be when he faces more disciplined hitters in the upper minors. In a lot of ways, he’s similar to Gio Gonzalez, which is a rather succinct way to picture both his strengths and his weaknesses.
While he’s an imposing pitcher on the mound, May collapses his back leg in his delivery, which costs him plane to the plate. As a result, he doesn’t get as many ground balls as he should, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens with his home run rate when he pitches in a more difficult environment than the Florida State League (like, say, Citizens Bank Park).
Conclusions: May reminds me rather heavily of Gonzalez, except that he’s a righthander and is considerably bigger. As with Gonzalez, the potential to be a staff ace is here thanks to the good stuff and strikeout ability, but inconsistency and command issues threaten to hold him back. To his credit, May has shown progress in overcoming his problems, but the two biggest hurdles (the jump to Double-A, and the jump to the majors) remain in front of him, so it’s impossible to give him more of an endorsement than this.
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