READING - So far at a new level, touted Phillies pitching prospect Trevor May has been able to match the incredible hype he has generated.
Even though the 6-foot-5, 250-pound righthander has compiled an impressive list of statistics in his first four starts for double-A Reading, he isn't buying the hype or accolades and doesn't appear to be burdened by the exceedingly high expectations.
May, who will turn 23 in September, is ranked No. 1 by The Inquirer/Daily News among the Phillies' Top 25 minor-league prospects.
He throws in the low- to mid-90s, paralyzes hitters with a baffling change-up, and is working to refine his breaking pitches.
Yet the most impressive part of May is his insatiable desire to improve. He doesn't care about the 4-0 record and 2.35 ERA this year. Or the fact that he has a 0.87 WHIP and has struck out 26 and walked eight.
Even after giving up just one hit in six shutout innings of Wednesday's 1-0 victory over the visiting Richmond Flying Squirrels, the San Francisco Giants affiliate, May understood that the performance wasn't as complete as the box score may have indicated.
That's because he needed 90 pitches to get through six innings.
"I have to be more economical with my pitches," he said.
A fourth-round draft choice in 2008, May went 10-8 with a 3.63 ERA last year for high single-A Clearwater, striking out 208 in 1511/3 innings and earning the Paul Owens Award as the Phillies' minor-league pitcher of the year.
Despite the high praise, May refuses to be complacent, which is the trait most admired by the Phillies brass.
"I think he has his delivery under control and he is showing you everything you want to see," said Joe Jordan, the Phillies' director of player development. "It's about consistency and being more efficient."
Of course, the consistency part could be said of any prospect.
For his part, May seems to revel in the mental challenge of pitching. He understood quickly that he needed to make adjustments as he continued to rise in the system.
"I used to be OK with throwing the ball belt high," he said. "That worked at low-A, but not high-A."
And certainly not in double-A or beyond.
"Pitching like that doesn't translate to the big leagues," May said. "You have to find things that work, and I am working on it every day."
May admits that it's difficult at times to keep his thoughts from drifting toward Philadelphia. But. . .
"I need to show what I can do," he said. "The rest will take care of itself."
On Wednesday, May said it was the first time this season his curveball was working.
So while he was happy the team got the win and he didn't allow his only hit until there was one out in the fifth inning, May understands that he wasted too many pitches in throwing 55 strikes and 35 balls.
For now he's on a pitch count of 90-95 a game. That should increase as the season goes on, but May will work on perfecting that curve while being more economical, thus leading to longer outings.
"It's my goal to go deeper in the game because if you want to compete at the big-league level in Philly, you better be able to throw eight, nine [innings] every time out there," he said.
Nobody has been able to chronicle May's progression better than Reading manager Dusty Wathan, who also managed the righthander in Clearwater and Lakewood.
Wathan says May's combination of physical skills and hunger to learn have him traveling on the right path.
"He is here to work and here to get to the big leagues, and I think we've all seen a bunch of guys who were top prospects who didn't really pan out, and for me, Trevor May doesn't want to be that guy and I don't think he will be," Wathan said. "He is so focused on the prize, not getting to the big leagues but staying in the big leagues and being able to help those guys every fifth day."