A top prospect falters

(Mike Janes/AP)

The outings at double-A Reading are grimmer each time for Trevor May, the Phillies' top pitching prospect. Last week, he walked eight Portland Sea Dogs in five innings. On Monday night, he served up four home runs in five innings to the Altoona Curve.

The 22-year-old is saddled with a 5.25 ERA in 20 starts this season, and even that is deceiving. He started well with five wins in five April starts for a 2.40 ERA and stellar 33-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio without allowing a home run.

His line since then?

74.2 IP, 76 H, 57 R, 53 ER, 52 BB, 71 K, 18 HR, 6.39 ERA

The jump from the Florida State League to Eastern League is one of the toughest tests for a young pitcher. What is so discouraging is that May handled it fine in the first month only to falter. 

A scout who has recently seen May said, predictably, he is routinely missing up in the zone with his pitches. The home runs are certainly disconcerting, but the walks are even worse.

Early in his minor-league career, May was a pitcher who averaged more than five walks per nine innings. Last season, in his breakout year for single-A Clearwater, he lowered it to four per nine. This year, it's back up to 5.2.

The Phillies saw all of the promise May offers during the first month of the season. The next three demonstrate how far the 22-year-old has to go before reaching the next step.

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