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Matthew Liberatore

#52 | LHP
St. Louis Cardinals St. Louis Cardinals
Matthew Liberatore
Name: Matthew Joseph Liberatore
Born: Nov 6, 1999 in Peoria, AZ
High School: Mountain Ridge HS, Glendale, Ariz.
Ht.: 6'5" / Wt.: 200 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L
Drafted in the 1st round (16th overall) by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2018 (signed for $3,497,500)
During the summer of 2017, Liberatore was an uber-projectable lefthander with great feel for three pitches that scouts could project to become plus down the line. At that time, Liberatore was sitting mostly in the upper 80s and low 90s with his fastball and had a low-70s, 12-to-6 curveball, as well as a changeup in the low to mid-80s. He performed well on the showcase circuit and with USA Baseball's 18U National team, pitching in the USA's 8-0 win over Korea in the gold medal game. During his first outing this spring, however, he was up to 96 mph with his fastball, a sharper curveball and a plus changeup. The 100-plus scouts could confidently leave that game and project three plus pitches on the prep lefthander who stood 6-foot-5. While the stuff hasn't been quite as loud for Liberatore since then, his fastball in particular hasn't held that velocity--he still has the frame and pitchability that teams can dream on, with a fairly clean and quick arm as well as makeup that scouts rave about. The Arizona commit pitches with a bulldog-like mentality on the mound but also brings a cerebral approach to what he's trying to do, with an advanced understanding of how to attack hitters and how to manipulate his pitches. During the spring, Liberatore added a low-80s slider that he showcased to a large group of evaluators at USA Baseball's National High School Invitational. The pitch is currently behind his curveball and changeup--both of which project as plus offerings--but showed some promise and he seemed confident with the offering given that he added it to his now-four-pitch mix about a week prior. While Liberatore's stuff and control isn't currently as loud as MacKenzie Gore's (the top lefthander in the 2017 draft class) was at this same point last year, the combination of his size, projection, makeup and pitchability should have him off the board early in the first round.
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