Meet Matthew Liberatore. He is 6’4″ and 200 lbs and throws a baseball left handed and was drafted in the first round, 16th overall, of the 2018 major league draft by the Tampa Bay Rays.He also inked a $3.5 million bonus.
He played baseball and graduated in Glendale, Arizona at Mountain Ridge High School. As a senior pitcher, he was 8-1 for the year with a 0.93 ERA. That year he tossed 60.1 innings and fanned 104 batters. This performance earned him the Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year.
In his first professional season he was assigned to the Gulf Coast League and the roster for Rays. He pitched in eight games and notched a 0.98 ERA in 2018. He was sent to Princeton of the Appalachian League at the end of the season and pitched in one game.
In 2019, he was assigned to the Bowling Green Hot Rods and was 6-2 in 15 starts while pitching 78 innings. He fanned 76 batter and garnered a 3.10 ERA.
A deal was made on January 9, 2020 that included the Rays giving up Liberatore along with Edgardo Rodriguez and the Rays’ Competitive Balance Round B Draft Pick in exchange for José Martínez, Randy Arozarena, and the Cardinals’ Competitive Balance Round A Draft Pick.
Matthew Liberatore is now a Cardinals pitcher. He and the Cardinals #2 propect Nolan Gorman have been friends since they were five years old. Now Liberatore is listed as the 3rd best prospect in the organization.
The scouts (evaluators) have identified Liberatore has having outstanding pitches and use four of them very well. He has three above average with his best pitch being a curveball that has three-quarter tilt and produces a sharp downward movement. He compliments that with a low 90’s fastball that can gather enough steam to reach 95 mph. He uses his change to hide his fastball and has show success with these pitches. His slider is projected as average and enters the strike zone in the low 80’s.
His contol is one of the things he does well along with good command of his list of pitches. HE can repeat his delivery mechanics and has an upside to his athleticism. All of these bode well for the future.
Look for the Cardinals to slow his progress down a bit as they allow him time to develop and continue to master his craft. He is likely projected to be a starter in the major leagues and is earmarked to make his major league debut in 2022.