ST. PETERSBURG (620 WDAE) -- The Tampa Bay Rays selected a high school pitcher in the first round for the first time since 2011, drafting Matthew Liberatore, a left-hander from Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale, Arizona.
The 6'5", 200 pound left-hander was an Underclass All-American in both 2016 and 2017, and played for the Team USA Under-18 club in the summer of 2017 as well, throwing 12 shutout innings and striking out 13. He was named a Rawlings Perfect Game First Team All American after an 8-1 senior season at Mountain Ridge High School, posting a 0.93 earned run average and striking out 104 batters.
Listen to comments from Liberatore below!
With the first two picks of the Compensatory Round A, Tampa Bay decided to go with a left-hander with experience and a local tie, followed by a midwest high school outfielder. The Rays selected USF southpaw Shane McClanahan 31st overall and outfielder Nick Schnell from Roncalli High School in Indianapolis with the very next selection.
McClanahan went 5-6 with a 3.42 earned run average in 14 starts this year, striking out 120 batters and walking just 48 in 76 1/3 innings with the Bulls. He was drafted in the 26th round by the New York Mets in 2015, but decided to go to college.
Schnell led Roncalli High School in Indianapolis to a state title in division 4-A, and is the first player in his school's history to be drafted. Schnell is currently committed to attend the University of Louisville.
Rays senior vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom speaks after the first three selections of the night.
In the second round, Tampa Bay selected Florida Atlantic infielder Tyler Frank with the 56th overall pick. Frank, who was not drafted out of high school, hit .307 / .444 / .563 with 13 home runs and 35 RBI in helping the Owls reach the NCAA tournament this year.
With their final pick of the night, the 71st overall selection, Tampa Bay chose Tanner Dodson, a right-handed pitcher from the University of California at Berkley. Dodson made 19 appearances out of the bullpen, his first year working strictly as a reliever, going 2-1 with a 2.48 ERA and 11 saves. He struck out 35 and walked just seven hitters in 40 innings of work.