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Arizona signee Matthew Liberatore to ink contract with Tampa Bay Rays

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Not surprising


Matthew Liberatore had been the prized possession of the Arizona Wildcats’ 2018 baseball recruiting class since the day he pledged to Jay Johnson’s staff, but the lefty from Glendale, AZ will not see campus.

After being selected 16th overall by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2018 MLB Draft, Liberatore has decided to go straight from high school to professional baseball.

Jon Heyman was the first to report that the Rays and Liberatore came to terms on a deal with a $3.5 million signing bonus. It is just under the slot value of $3,603,500.

Liberatore was a high school teammate with current Arizona infielder Cameron Cannon at Mountain Ridge where the left-handed pitcher was named Arizona’s Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year for 2017-18.

This was also probably the most high-profile pitcher committed to Arizona since Michael Kopech, who did what Liberatore and went straight to Minor League Baseball from high school. Kopech is now the No. 8 prospect in all of baseball, and Liberatore is likely to join him in the top 100 right away.

It’s also likely a matter of time before Nolan Gorman, the Arizona signee picked 19th overall, agrees to a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals.

It’ll be interesting to see how the 2019 Arizona baseball roster shakes out with many guys leaving and the high-profile recruits not making it to campus.