Meet the Tampa Bay Rays Farm System: Matthew Liberatore

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Port Charlotte, FL - JUL 06: 2018 Tampa Bay Rays first round pick 18-year-old left-hander Matthew Liberatore makes his professional debut as the starting pitcher for the GCL Rays during the Gulf Coast League (GCL) game between the GCL Orioles and the GCL Rays on July 06, 2018, at the Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, FL. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Meet the Tampa Bay Rays Farm System: Matthew Liberatore

In the last edition of meet the Tampa Bay Rays farm system, top-rated prospect Vidal Brujan was put under the spotlight. This week will feature a look at Matthew Liberatore, who ranks 41st in the MLB top 100 prospect list.

Background

Liberatore was born on November 6th, 1999, and is currently 19 years old. Liberatore graduated from Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale, Arizona. In his senior year, he posted an 8-1 record with an outstanding 0.93 ERA and 104 strikeouts.

Liberatore was drafted in 2018 with the 16th overall pick in the first round. He signed with the Rays with a 3.5 million signing bonus. Nolan Gorman was also selected in the first round who Liberatore has been friends with since he was five.

He has also won a gold medal with the U.S. 18U Nationals Team, where he pitched six scoreless innings. He had also been named Arizona’s player of the year back in 2018.

Playing Career

Liberatore started his professional playing career with the Gulf Coast Rays. In 27 IP, he posted a 0.98 ERA with 32 strikeouts and gave up no HR. Liberatore then moved up to the Appalachian Leauge, where he would only pitch five innings. Over these five IP, he racked up a 3.60 ERA with five strikeouts.

In 2019 Liberatore moved up to the Midwest Leauge (A Full), where he spent the entire year and gave scouts their best full look at what he can do. Over the year, he would end with 76 strikeouts, a 3.10 ERA and gave up just two home runs. Liberatore finished the year with a record of 6-2 and pitched a total of 78 innings. For such a young pitcher, this is quite impressive.

What to Look for Today

While Liberatorehas only played for two years, he has already shown a lot of potential. He has exhibited each year that he can limit home run balls and keep his number of walks low. Liberatore has been able to utilize his four pitchers very nicely with his curveball earning the highest rating of 60 according to MLB.com.

Coming out of high school Matthew Liberatore still has a lot of growing to do, and the Rays organization tends to take their time with high school draft picks. So while we may not see him in the majors for a few years, it’s safe to say Liberatore will be a top pitcher in the future if developed correctly.

The six-foot-five lefty already has an advantage as a left-handed pitcher but has also continued to add pitches to his repertoire, making him more versatile. This last Spring Liberatore added a slider to his pitch options and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him add yet another pitch. Liberatore is able to throw in the low 90’s and has thrown his fastball as fast as 95 mph. Scouts have noted that Liberatore does a great job of getting extension over his front side, causing him to be deceptive. This can be a key trait for pitchers and is something to keep an eye on.

Overall

Liberatore carries a high potential rating and will look to take his game to the next level over this next year. Liberatore’s best quality just might be the movement he is able to get on a lot of his pitches. Liberatore is definitely a player for Rays fans to keep their eye on over these next few years.

Rays fans can catch Matthew Liberatore playing for the Bowling Green Hot Rods in Kentucky next season.

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