Rays pick high school lefty Matthew Liberatore with 16th overall pick in draft

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays have selected left-handed pitcher Matthew Liberatore from Mountain Ridge (Ariz.) High School with the No. 16 pick in the first round of the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.

Liberatore, 18, was ranked as the No. 2 overall player in this year’s draft by Baseball America and was ranked third by ESPN’s Keith Law and fourth by MLB.com. The Rays selected him higher than any other high school pitcher in club history, and he is the fourth high school pitcher selected by the Rays in the first round following Jason Standridge (No. 31) in 1997, Taylor Guerrieri (No. 24) in 2011 and Blake Snell (No. 52) in 2011. Only five pitchers have ever been drafted higher by the Rays: Dewon Brazelton (No. 3) in 2001, Jeff Niemann (No. 4) in 2004, Wade Townsend (No. 8) in 2005, David Price (No. 1) in 2007 and Brendan McKay (No. 4) in 2017.

Liberatore went 8-1 with a 0.93 ERA (60.1-IP, 8-ER) and 104 strikeouts as a high school senior and received Arizona Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year honors. He was named a first team Rawlings/Perfect Game All-American for this past season, and helped lead Mountain Ridge to the Class 6A state championship game. Last summer, he pitched 12 scoreless innings for USA Baseball’s 18U National Team and recorded the win in their gold medal game over Korea. He is committed to play college baseball next season at the University of Arizona.