Matthew Liberatore

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Matthew Joseph Liberatore

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Matthew Liberatore was the 16th overall pick of the 2018 amateur draft, by the Tampa Bay Rays, out of a high school in Glendale, AZ. His name was already known in baseball circles, as he had been a member of the United States junior national team at the 2017 U-18 Baseball World Cup in Thunder Bay, ON. He had allowed one hit and fanned 12 in a six-inning win over Mexico, shortened by rain. He then started against South Korea in the Gold Medal Game and allowed four hits in another six shutout innings before Mitchell Wilson, Mason Denaburg and J.T. Ginn completed the shutout for a US title. He tied Ginji Miura for the ERA lead and tied for the win lead. He still did not get named to the All-Star team (teammate Ethan Hankins was picked at SP) and teammate Triston Casas won MVP instead. He dropped a commitment to attend the University of Arizona in order to sign with the Rays and split his first season between the GCL Rays and Princeton Rays, two Rookie-class teams. Combined, he was 2-2, 1.38 in 9 starts.

In 2019, Liberatore graduated to the Bowling Green Hot Rods in the Midwest League, where he was 6-2, 3.10 in 16 games. In 78 1/3 innings, he struck out 76 opponents. On January 9, 2020, he was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals along with another prospect, C Edgardo Rodriguez, in return for major leaguers Jose Martinez and Randy Arozarena. The two teams also swapped picks in the Compensation Rounds of the 2020 amateur draft. He did not get to pitch that season, as the minor leagues were shut down by the Coronavirus pandemic, but he did get to spend the summer alongside other Cardinals top prospects at the team's alternate training site. In 2021, he spent the season in AAA with the Memphis Redbirds, going 9-9, 4.04 in 22 games, including 18 starts. He pitched 124 2/3 innings and struck out 123 batters.

He started 2022 back with Memphis and was 3-3, 3.83 after 7 starts when he was called up to St. Louis on May 19th alongside teammate Nolan Gorman. The two had known each other since they were 5 and had been best friends growing up, so it was fitting that they were hitting the Show together, as they were respectively considered the top pitching and hitting prospects in the system. Matthew was the starting pitcher against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 21st, filling in a spot left open by a doubleheader earlier in the week. He pitched 4 2/3 innings, giving up 4 runs on 7 hits, walking 2 and striking out 3, and was not involved in the decision as the Cards won the game, 5-4. He did better in his second start, against the Milwaukee Brewers on May 28th, pitching 5 scoreless innings and leaving with an 8-0 lead. The Brewers managed to score a few late runs after he left, but he was still credited with his first major league win, 8-3.

Further Reading[edit]

  • John Denton: "'Couldn't write it any better': Liberatore debuts with Gorman there",, May 22, 2022. [1]
  • Sam Dykstra: "What to expect from Gorman, Liberatore",, May 20, 2022. [2]
  • Bill Ladson: "'Here to play': Prospects Gorman, Liberatore joining Cards",, May 19, 2022. [3]
  • Tim Whelan: "MLB Draft: Matthew Liberatore selected by Tampa Bay Rays", USA Today High School Sports, June 4, 2018. [4]

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