"Spot the fastball, throw all my pitches, find confidence in all of those pitches and establish 'in' well," he said.
The Phillies' top prospect checked each of those boxes in his start Thursday night. The righty allowed just an earned run on four hits and a walk while striking out six over seven innings en route to Double-A Reading's 4-1 win over Harrisburg.
May (2-0) was able to go deep into his second start of the season, because he didn't have to throw many pitches in the early innings. The 22-year-old retired the first nine Senators he faced before allowing a single to Eury Perez to open the fourth and had 1-2-3 innings in four of his seven total frames. In his last inning, he struck out Destin Hood and Jose Lozada swinging before forcing Sandy Leon to pop out.
But May said, in order for him to succeed in the seventh, he needed those early frames to go smoothly.
"I did a good job of locating the fastball early, getting some swings early in counts, so that gave me a little confidence," he said. "You get some quick innings, you settle into a groove and the rest of the game becomes much easier. But overall, once I got the fastball down, my changeup helped me there, and I could go to my slider and curveball for my off-speed stuff. You do all that and before you know it, we're leaving to get out of here."
That slew of pitches helped May keep down his walk count, which had haunted him in the past. After walking 81 batters in 135 innings between Class A Lakewood and Class A Advanced Clearwater in 2010, the righty lowered that to 67 free passes in 151 1/3 innings last season for Clearwater. Following his lone walk in Thursday's win, May, ranked MLB.com's No. 53 prospect, has walked four in his first 12 innings on the season.
The Washington native was coming off an April 6 opening start in which he allowed four runs allowed over five innings. All of the runs were scored in the second, when the righty allowed three hits and two walks. May struck out six and did not allow another hit in the outing, but he admitted later that perhaps his mind wasn't in the right place for the entire start.
"I came in with a good game plan," he said, "and I tried to use it last time, but I lost it for an inning there. The difference tonight was I kept my focus the whole game and didn't let it slip from me."
May also maintained his focus at the plate. After striking out in both of his first two at-bats, On Wednesday, May who Tweeted: "On the road tomorrow at [Harrisburg]! Pumped to hit!" And he did, stroking a double to right field to score Miguel Abreu in the seventh.
He said it was his first time on the other side of a pitch in a game that mattered since his days as a sophomore in high school, when opponents were only throwing around 65 mph. (He also faced Detroit reliever Joaquin Benoit in one Spring Training at-bat this year.) Given that much time off, May said he didn't expect to provide offense.
"It was definitely cool," he said. "Everybody kind of jokes around about watching the pitchers hit, and I do look pretty goofy in batting practice. ... But you just go up and swing and see what happens. It gets a little better every time. As pitchers, we generally know what the other pitchers have. So you just hope you can sink one in and help yourself."
Philadelphia's No. 14 prospect Cesar Hernandez went 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored for the R-Phils, who moved to 7-1 on the season.
Jeff Mandel (0-1) took the loss for the Senators, despite allowing just two runs on three hits and two walks over six innings.