The Rays have a deal in place with first-round draft pick Matthew Liberatore, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reports on Twitter. He’s slated to receive a $3.5MM bonus, per the report.
Liberatore was widely tabbed as a top-five talent, with MLB.com ranking him second on its board. But he lasted until the 16th pick on the day of the draft, leaving many to wonder just how that happened.
While the presumption seemed to be that the Rays had promised Liberatore an over-slot bonus, given that the club has a big war chest due to its compensation selections, that does not appear to have been the case. Liberatore will evidently come in right around the slot value of $3,603,500.
In any event, the Rays are surely thrilled to add a high-end southpaw prospect from their perch in the middle of the first round. Liberatore has at times shown top-shelf fastball velocity, but hasn’t maintained it. Otherwise, he’s a pitching coach’s dream, with an advanced pitch mix that he knows how to use and a big frame that could still support further development.