The Tampa Bay Rays will make five selections during the opening night of the MLB Draft. Their first selection was a high school pitcher from Arizona.
Projected as the No. 4 overall prospect in the draft, many mock drafts had Matthew Liberatore going in the Top 5 — and nobody expected him to be available with the 16th selection.
A 6’5” left-handed pitcher from Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale, AZ, Liberatore is touted more for his pitch-ability and feel for the game than for his velocity.
— Kris Dunn (@KRSDunn) June 5, 2018
Rays front office is very excited to have Liberatore on board.
The Arizona native had a relationship with the team heading into Monday’s draft, however, there isn’t much to elaborate on when the unexpected happens.
“I had a pretty good relationship with [Senior Advisor] RJ Harrison going into the draft so I knew a good amount about them and that was pretty much it.”
Despite his Top 5 projection, Liberatore wasn’t disappointed in Monday’s outcome.
“I didn’t really go into it with any expectations,” he said via telephone conference. “So it wasn’t something that upset me or really frustrated me. I just waited until I heard my name called and when that happen it was a lot of happy tears and a lot of laughs.”
Liberatore is the first HS pitcher taken in the first round since 2011 when the Rays selected Taylor Guerrieri (24th) and Blake Snell (52nd). In 2017, the Rays selected two-way University of Louisville product Brendan McKay with the fourth overall pick. You’d have to go back to 2007 to find a true pitcher selected by Tampa Bay (David Price) inside the Top 20.
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