The San Diego Padres, after a 71-91 record in 2017, earned themselves a spot at number seven in the 2018 MLB Draft, and with it, a chance to find perhaps the next great Padres player.
While many players have been connected to San Diego, there are rumblings that prep left-hander Matthew Liberatore could be selected at the seventh spot, with Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo having the Padres selecting him at number seven. In the latest EVT Podcast, Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs said that the Padres were heavily scouting the Mountain Ridge star.
So, in preparation for the upcoming draft, who is this left-handed pitcher that has so many hailing him as the top high school arm of the year?
Liberatore is an 18-year old left-handed pitcher who is currently committed to Arizona, but is sure to reconsider if he is selected in the first round. He has posted video-game like numbers in his senior season, posting a 0.93 ERA while walking 18 batters and striking out a mere 104 batters in 60 1/3 innings. He has allowed 18 runs to score in his 10 appearances, but only eight of those were earned runs.
Advanced strikeout ratios are hard to come by for high school players, but by conducting some simple math, one can discover just how wild his strikeout to walk ratios. Liberatore has posted a 15.57 K/9 rate as well as a 3.74 BB/9 rate, while his K% and BB% ratio adds up to be a 44% and 11%, respectively. Pair these along with his 4.16 K/BB ratio, and you have a pitcher who could start racking up strikeouts like a video game once he is pitching for a pro team.
Liberatore does this with a fastball that averages around 88-94 that has peaked at 97, a slow curveball with good tilt, a change up that has the potential to be a plus pitch, and a fringe slider. Liberatore has been said to have made a few mechanical adjustments to help make his stuff better on the mound and the 6-foot-5 left-hander still has a few more years of growing left before he fully matures.
The Padres have been said to be heavily scouting the young Liberatore, as Logan White has been seen at his last few starts. With A.J. Preller’s penchant for drafting young left-handed arms like MacKenzie Gore and Eric Lauer, Liberatore would seem to be right up his alley. The slot value of the pick is at $5,226,500 so the Padres have some room to negotiate, but they also need to keep in mind of their own pool of $10,462,220.
— James E. Clark (@EVT_JClark) May 23, 2018
When the MLB Draft comes around on June 3, the San Diego Padres could very well be selecting the young Matthew Liberatore at number seven. Then again, they could also cut an under-slot deal with another arm like Carter Stewart, but the prep-lefty is considered to be the top left-hander in the Draft, and he would make a fine addition to the Padres’ farm system.