Trevor May has pitched in Tampa so much, he feels right at home on the Yankees' mound.
The Phillies' No. 4 prospect allowed two hits in a seven-inning shutout, striking out nine as Class A Advanced Clearwater defeated Tampa, 4-0, in the first game of Wednesday's doubleheader.
"I was able to locate the fastball pretty well," May said.
"We had a rainout yesterday, so I felt pretty fresh body-wise. The curveball was sharp, the change-up was really good today -- I felt like I had good movement and good control with it. I even mixed in a couple sliders that I'm working on. Overall, everything in my arsenal was pretty good."
A fourth-round pick in 2008, May has been dominant all year for the Threshers. He has posted a 3.22 ERA in 131 1/3 innings with 178 strikeouts -- a mark that is first in the Florida State League and second in the Minors overall. The next closest player in the FSL, teammate Julio Rodriguez, has fanned 126.
May has been particularly strong since the All-Star break, going 5-2 with a 2.83 ERA and two shutouts in 10 starts. He has whiffed 90 in his past 60 1/3 innings.
"My ability to get the fastball down in the zone has been imperative," May said. "I'm now able to get a lot more called strikes at the knees. I'm getting more called strikeouts than ever before.
"I also think during my career, my change-up has been underplayed. It's more of a weapon than people have given it credit for. It's something I can locate when I want to. I've gotten a lot of swings and misses on it in fastball counts. I feel like it's been a putaway pitch along with the curveball."
After starting the game off with a perfect first inning, May ran into a bit of trouble in the second. He issued a leadoff walk to Luke Murton, then yielded a two-out double to Cody Johnson to put runners on second and third. He was able escape the inning, however, by inducing a groundout off the bat of Jorge Alcantara.
"Sometimes they put a couple things together," May said. "I was cruising a little bit, and before I knew it, they had guys on second and third. I stayed with my gameplan, didn't think much about it and got the next guy to [ground out]."
The last hit May allowed came in the third, when Walter Ibarra doubled on a ground ball to center field. The 21-year-old right-hander went on to retire 13 of the final 14 batters he faced, with only Deangelo Mack reaching on a one-out throwing error by shortstop Troy Hanzawa in the seventh.
"I've thrown in Tampa's stadium quite a bit in my career," May said. "I almost felt like I was pitching at home. I located pitches early in counts, got ahead, and before I knew it, four innings had gone by."
Though he continues to stifle Class A Advanced competition, May said he had not heard anything about a promotion. He added that at this point, he doesn't think it matters too much.
"In my opinion, I'm probably going to be in Double-A to start next year either way," he said. "I could see it not happening simply because we just moved into first and we're in a playoff push. There are only four, maybe five, more starts in the regular season. It could be a get-your-feet-wet thing, or I could stay for the playoffs. Either way, I'm happy with this year and excited to build on it."
Clearwater went on to take the nightcap as well, rallying for three runs in the top of the seventh en route to a 6-5 win over the Yankees. Cyle Hankerd hit into a bases-loaded RBI groundout to tie the game, and Travis Mattair and Cesar Hernandez followed with a pair of run-scoring singles.
Tampa got one run back on an RBI single by Kyle Roller in the bottom of the inning, but relievers Jordan Whatcott and Andy Loomis struck out the final two batters to end the game.