Star pitcher falls to Rays, but Banda lost to injury

by Gary Shelton on June 5, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

The Tampa Bay Rays looked to add more arms to their minor leagues in the league draft Monday night.

Good. They'll need them.

In what may have been a steal, the Rays picked Matthew Liberatore, a left-handed pitcher out of Arizona. They later drafted Shane McClanahan, a hard-throwing lefty from USF, and Nick Schnell, a power-hitting outfielder.

That was somewhat offset, however, by the news that prospect Anthony Banda will have to undergo Tommy John surgery. Banda is the third pitcher that has required the surgery for the Rays: Banda, Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon.

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As big a downer as that might have been, the Rays did have a well-received draft, however.

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,

"We saw him as the top high school left-handed pitcher in the draft," said Rob Metzler, the Rays' amateur scouting director. "This is a great outcome for the organization."

Metzler said he thinks Liberatore will be signable.

"He's large, he has a good delivery, a good arm action," Metzler said. "He has a diverse repertoire of pitches -- fastball, changeup, slider, curveball -- and can command them all. Those are all really good ingredients we think we can develop."

Liberatore compares his stuff with some of the best in the game.

"Mentally, I try to emulate Aroldis Chapman or Max Scherzer or even Marcus Stroman, just the passion and intensity they bring to the game," he said. "The kind of presence they have on the mound, the way they intimidate guys before they even step in the box. It makes it that much easier to get them out physically, and I want to try to bring that to my game."

The Rays later added shortstop Tyler Frank and right-handed pitcher Tanner Dodson.

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