All you need to know about Reading can be learned from a quick examination of the names the local minor league baseball club has used over the last century: Coal Heavers, Pretzels, Coal Barons, Mariners, Aces, Keystones, Sox, Brooks, Chicks, Indians, Red Sox, and Phillies. OK, maybe not everything. But all you really need to know right now is that Trevor May is looking more and more like the next blue-chip pitcher to be shipped out of town join the Phillies rotation at some point in the next two or three years.
Last night, in front of an audience that included dignitaries like Phillies president David Montgomery, assistant general manager Benny Looper and pro scouting director Mike Ondo, May held the Richmond Flying Squirrels to one hit and two walks in six scoreless innings, striking out seven in the process.
May, ranked the No. 69 prospect in the minors by Baseball America prior to this season, has had a dominant start to his Double-A career. Through four starts (all of which have resulted in his picking up the win, if that kind of thing matters to you), May has logged 23 innings with 26 strikeouts, eight walks (a 3.25 K/BB ratio) and no home runs. In fact, he has allowed just one extra base hit, which came in his first start of the season. Over his last three starts, May has allowed two runs, nine hits and five walks with 20 strikeouts in 18 innings.
May's performance will be interesting to monitor this season given the current plotlines swirling around the team. Despite all of the young talent the Phillies have traded away over the last three seasons, they still have the pieces it would take to swing a high-profile trade. At 22 years old, May's stock is still rising. Many people think he will prove to be the same caliber of prospect as Kyle Drabek, who was the centerpiece of the Roy Halladay deal in December of 2009.
The other plotline is Cole Hamels' potential free agency. My gut says he ends up signing here, but I also expected a deal to be done by now. So who knows. Fact is, the Phillies have Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Vance Worley all under contract through at least 2013, and likely 2014 (Halladay has a vesting option for that season). At some point, they need to find a way to remodel the offense. Maybe they can do it by using May as a trade chip. Or maybe they decide that their best option is to save money by letting Hamels walk and then spend the savings on offense.
The smartest play, obviously, is to re-sign Hamels and look to deal for offensive talent. May still has considerable work to do before his is major league ready. As far as I can tell, the only Top 100 prospect he has faced is Giants outfielder Gary Brown, who was No. 38 on this year's Baseball America list. Last night, May walked Brown in the fourth inning but got him to ground out in the first and then struck him out looking in the sixth. In an earlier meeting, he again walked Brown, got him to ground out, and struck him out (swinging, this time).
Anyway, that's your Trevor May update for the day. I'm here in Reading watching the Phillies take on Flying Squirrels before a long bus trip up to Portland, Maine. Lots of talent on this Reading team, including outfielder Jiwan James and catcher Sebastian Valle.