St. Louis Cardinals: Matthew Liberatore among MLBs top prospects
MLB Pipeline recently released their Top 10 best left-handed pitching prospects and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Matthew Liberatore was listed at No. 5.
Liberatore, of course, was acquired by the Cardinals in a trade that sent Randy Arozarena, Jose Martinez and a Competitive Balance Round A selection. Liberatore, 21, was the No. 16 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft and flew through the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League, allowing three runs in 27 2/3 innings. He features a four-pitch mix, including an above-average curveball, and is regarded as one of the best pitching prospects in baseball.
Here is a breakdown on his curveball, via MLB Pipeline:
“The top high school pitching prospect in the 2018 Draft, Liberatore is extremely advanced for a 21-year-old pitcher. That includes his feel for spin, which produces an upper-70s curveball with exquisite depth, as well as his ability to locate it and the confidence to threw it in any count.”
Liberatore has a high ceiling, with one scout recently telling Redbird Rants that he would rank him over top Nationals pitching prospect Cade Cavalli and most others. Liberatore, however, has not pitched in a game since Aug. 2019, finishing with a 3.10 ERA and 76/31 strikeout-to-walk ratio in Single-A Bowling Green.
“I haven’t pitched in a real game since, I think, August 2019,” Liberatore said recently. “So, I have a year and a half of fire built up in my stomach right now ready to go out and unload on some hitters.”
When Liberatore eventually makes it to the majors, he figures to be an impact starting pitcher. He has started 24 of 25 games in the minors, with a 2.59 career ERA in two seasons, while striking out 113 hitters and allowing 44 walks.
His timeline to get to the majors largely depends on what the minor-league season looks like, and there is increased uncertainty as to what that will be. But if all goes well, perhaps he makes it up sometime in 2022 – though there is an expectation among league insiders that teams could become more aggressive in promoting their prospects this season.