Jim Callis of MLB.com released his Top 10 Left-Handed Pitcher prospects across Major League Baseball. Let’s take a look at where Matthew Liberatore is ranked, and what is being said about the young lefty.
Matthew Liberatore came in at #7 on the Top 10 LHP prospects. Scouts remarked on his plus-curveball, which allowed him to get some starts last reason for the Cardinals. However, Liberatore was also listed as the only prospect on this list with “the most to prove” next season.
In 34.2 innings pitched, Liberatore collected 28 strikeouts and a record of 2-2. He made his Major League Baseball debut at PNC Park on May 21st and started the first 4.2 innings before Oliver Marmol gave the ball to the bullpen. Liberatore would pick up his first MLB win the very next week at Busch Stadium against Milwaukee, pitching five innings of shutout baseball and picking up six strikeouts in an 8-3 Cardinals victory.
Yet Liberatore remains a polarizing prospect to many Cardinals fans. As Callis notes, he was the pitching prospect brought over in the Randy Arozarena trade. After his win against Milwaukee, Liberatore never showed the ability to really dominate hitters and made trips to-and-from Memphis. This has left fans to wonder if Liberatore will really pan out.
For Matthew Liberatore to be a reliable starting pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, he needs to develop a secondary pitch to put hitters away. We know that he has a Major League-level curveball, but what else does he have? Here is what Callis had to say on why Liberatore was the prospect with Most to Prove:
"His (Liberatore) 5.17 ERA in Triple-A and 5.97 ERA in his big league debut last year underscored his need for a second better-than-average pitch to pair with his curveball."- Jim Callis, MLB.com
The pitch Liberatore needs to work on the most is his four-seam fastball. On a 20-80 scout scale, the fastball was graded at a mere 40, as compared to his 60-grade curveball. In Liberatore’s time with the Cardinals, he delivered his fastball the most out of all pitches he threw, and it got pounded by opposing hitters.
The result was an extraordinary high wOBA of .465. That simply cannot happen in the big leagues.
Matthew Liberatore has the tools to be a starting pitcher for the Cardinals, albeit on the back end of the rotation. His curveball quality is well-documented, but the fastball needs to be better. If we start seeing more outs from Liberatore in Triple-A from the fastball, he can solidify himself in the Cardinals’ starting rotation.
Fun note: Callis also wrote a nice paragraph on Cooper Hjerpe, our 2022 first-round draft pick. Don’t be surprised if he accelerates through the minors with his unique pitching delivery.