Matthew Liberatore was going to be on the USA Olympic baseball team, but the St. Louis Cardinals need his arm more back home.
Earlier this summer, top St. Louis Cardinals prospect Matthew Liberatore joined other former and young professional players on the USA National team as they battled to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Of course, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are happening in 2021, but when the games begin in late July, baseball will be returning to the Olympics for the first time since 2008. Liberatore, who is not yet on the Cardinals’ 40-man roster and is therefore eligible, pitched two games during the qualifying round.
While Liberatore was able to help the National team qualify, he won’t be there to help compete on behalf of the United States.
As Jeff Jones mentions here, the decision for Liberatore to be left off the roster wasn’t surprising but had to be tough. For Liberatore, this is one of the only times in his life that he’ll be eligible for the Olympics. While participating would’ve been a great experience, the Cardinals ultimately made the choice that the team here needs Liberatore more.
Starting the year at AAA after finishing 2019 at Low-A, Liberatore struggled out of the gate. While the team lauded his progress at the Alternate Site in 2020, there was no way to substitute actual experience against other teams.
However, the tall lefty has started to catch up with his aggressive promotion. While Liberatore’s season ERA of 4.40 isn’t amazing, his best starts have come recently. Earlier this week, Liberatore threw 8.0 innings at AAA Memphis allowing just three earned runs and striking out six.
Liberatore still isn’t on the team’s 40-man roster, but there is a chance the Cardinals could call on him at some point down the stretch. Even if the Cardinals don’t give Liberatore the call, they could really use him to fill innings at Memphis. Liberatore also will join Nolan Gorman later in July at the Futures Game during All-Star festivities. This isn’t the same honor as the Olympics, but it is still an honor.
Liberatore might find himself in St. Louis at some point this season, but he won’t find himself in Tokyo.