Best buddies looking forward to continuing their relationship as professionals within the professional ranks, as they look forward to the MLB Draft.
Over the fifty-three year history of the Major League Rule IV Amateur MLB Draft, there have been a few instances in which teammates have been chosen within the first ten picks of the same round. Just last year, the University of Virginia’s Pavin Smith and Adam Haseley were chosen seventh and eighth respectively by the Diamondbacks and Phillies. To find the last occurrence you have to go back to 1988 when Monty Fariss and Robin Ventura of Oklahoma State were chosen sixth and tenth.
It’s much less frequent when two childhood friends are chosen in the top ten of the MLB Draft. Perhaps the most well-known pair are Clint Frazier (5th) and Austin Meadows (9th) in 2013, who grew up together in Loganville, Georgia. Despite going to different high schools just four and a half miles apart, their relationship goes back to Little League.
And it’s not just the two of them as Frazier mentioned to William Boor of MLB.com:
"“My dad and his dad were pretty good friends. They coached together in Little League and our moms sat together in the stands.”"
Fast forward to today and Frazier has reached the major leagues with the Yankees and despite being hampered by injuries the now healthy Meadows is knocking on the door to Pittsburgh.
We could see a repeat this year as Matthew Liberatore and Nolan Gorman of Glendale, Arizona are both considered locks to go in the top ten.
Liberatore is a left-handed pitcher at Glendale Mountain Ridge High School and Gorman is a third baseman at Sandra Day O’Connor. Their respective high schools are twelve miles apart but they grew up best friends living on the same street and playing whiffle ball in the backyard.
Both players sat down with Richard Morin of azcentral.com sports prior to the current season and outlined how they got to where they are.
"“I think it’s pretty special between us two. Being able to go out there and compete with each other for all these years, and now get to match up with each other in the high school season … I mean, we’ve grown up together since we were five.”"
"“It’s been pretty cool. I don’t know a lot of guys in the whole country who are in this position let alone a guy who’s five minutes down the street and also my best friend. I’ve known him forever so it’s been really cool to share those experiences with him and his parents. I know my dad and his dad call and talk about it all the time.”"
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Liberatore is a 6’5” left-hander who has touched as high as 97 mph. He’s currently 3-1 on the season with a 0.99 ERA and has struck out 52 hitters in 28.2 innings.
Gorman is a 6’1” left-handed hitter currently posting a 434 average in twenty-two games with 7 homers and twenty-six runs batted in.
Baseball America’s pre-season draft rankings listed Gorman sixth and Liberatore ninth among all draft prospects. (subscription required)
Mountain Ridge and O’Connor will square off next week in a season-ending home and home series with both teams likely to advance to the State Tournament.
Once the season wraps up their minds will focus on finishing the school year and staying in shape in advance of the June draft. Both players have committed to play their college ball at the University of Arizona although it’s unlikely either will see the campus.
The childhood friends realize that they’re on the precipice of something truly special. As Gorman told Morin, “It’s just this special kind of bond we have that really can’t be broken.”
With fourteen major league organizations fielding eighteen teams in the Arizona Rookie League and five of the top ten, there’s a good chance the best friends will begin their pro careers close to home after the 2018 MLB Draft.