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Originally signed as an amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic ahead of the 2013 season, 2017 marked the fifth in professional baseball for Seattle Mariners outfield prospect Luis Liberato. The left-handed hitting speedy outfielder split the year between Low-A Clinton and High-A Modesto, totaling 125 games and slashing .246/.312/.438/.749 with 16 doubles, 14 triples, 14 home runs, 12 stolen bases, 44 walks, and 131 strikeouts over 125 games (448 at-bats). While Liberato filled up the stat sheet in quite a bit of playing time this season, he’s lacking in a few key areas—especially offensively—that’ll hurt him in the upper minors barring a major improvement in offensive approach.

That said, he’s a very good athlete who can move on the base paths and in the outfield, and after having gotten a significant taste of High-A at 21 years old (DOB: December 18, 1995) he’s in a good spot heading into the 2018 season. Below, we’ve got a full Luis Liberato scouting report, including game video and some projection notes on what the Seattle Mariners might have in this rangy, athletic Dominican outfield prospect.

Luis Liberato, Seattle Mariners — 2017 Scouting Report

Dates observed in 2017: June 18; August 1-2; September 12-15

Hit (35)
Significant and fatal hitch with little discernible purpose late into his load. Drops hands nearly to his belt then pulls them suddenly back up to load position through pitcher’s release point; gets late start. Hitch leaves him susceptible to being late to anything hard in the upper half of the zone. Hitch also creates an uneven bat path and hand point at swing position, causing inconsistent contact and little ability to purposely manipulate the barrel. Above-average bat speed, can turn on hard stuff down and on inner half, but often late and weak contact both up and away on above-average velocity. Liberato may feel like hitch helps with momentum and leveraging power, but ultimately hurts him against actualizing power versus good fastballs. Below-average pitch recognition. Struggles to track the ball at times, seems to take pitches and at-bats off; immature and inconsistent mental focus.

Power (40)
Raw power is average, or perhaps slightly above, but difficulty in actualizing it against good, hittable fastballs in game action because of significant hand hitch. Power zone is down and in, as is the case with many LHH; even with hitch, can drop the bat head and turn on pitches low and tight. Above-average bat speed that makes up for some of his hitch against below-average fastballs, but unlikely to overcompensate against better pitchers. Uneven swing path at times with no ability to manipulate the barrel on anything besides down and in. Sometimes gets pull/power happy in approach; could stand to stay gap-to-gap more often. Above-average speed allows him to produce gap-to-gap power, but bat will struggle as he advances without a significant change in mechanics and approach.  

Glove (50)
Saw him predominantly in left field, but he has the speed to play center as well. Decent enough glove; good reads on balls off the bat, good foot speed once on the run, good feel for the outfield wall, and for working along the foul line. Serviceable enough defender, though he has some work to do on focus within the game; visibly appears to take pitches off, especially during longer stretches or after pitching changes late in games.

Arm (45)
Might get away with grading him out as average here, but he’s slightly below for me; decent carry on throws but lacking velocity behind them, even when momentum carries him toward to his target. Good throwing mechanics, clean high three-quarters release with modest, controllable arm-side run. Not particularly special, but won’t stand out as being overly poor, either. Likely best fit is left field, though Liberato’s arm would also be good enough to survive in center field.

Speed (55)
Had him consistently 4.14 - 4.17 out of the LHH box; takes quick first step and good, aggressive turns on balls in the gap. Good, instinctual baserunner with feel for pitchers and pick-offs, though he has yet to significantly exploit that in game situations. Very good top speed in the outfield; quick reactions off the ball and good judgment on fly balls. Good feel for running back on balls to the wall. Some jailbreak out of the box, but best aspect is full, long strides once he gets to top speed in the outfield.

Needs to develop maturity and more consistent concentration in game action; tendency to take pitches off and give away too many at-bats. Lack of consistency in approach at the plate.

Luis Liberato Scouting Report, Seattle Mariners — 2017 Game Video

Luis Liberato Scouting Report — Notes & Analysis

Only 21 years old, but very experienced — Luis Liberato will play his sixth professional season in 2018 — it’s almost certain the outfielder will hit minor league free agency before he makes an impact with the Seattle Mariners. Despite his extensive work (396 minor league contests and over 1,600 plate appearances), the lefty swinger still has considerable work to do, especially at the plate. He must refine his approach and iron out some major mechanical flaws in his swing if he’s to ever have success in the upper minors or beyond. I’m not bullish that’ll happen considering how significant of a hand hitch he has, and how much it’ll affect his ability to hit good velocity, but Liberato has age and above-average athleticism on his side. There’s too much raw talent here for the Seattle Mariners to jettison in minor league free agency without making a run at him, but his profile is ultimately high-risk and I believe it’s unlikely he’ll make a significant big league impact in his career.

Luis Liberato Scouting Report — Future Projection

To begin 2018, the Seattle Mariners would do well to send Luis Liberato back to High-A Modesto, where he must correct the aforementioned mechanical flaws in his swing and find consistency with his bat and power. Further maturity with age will help him, too, in giving away fewer at-bats, staying on pitches more consistently, and showing better outward focus in the field. Those are all correctable things that, to me, aren’t tied into a poor attitude so much as they are just youthful immaturity. His athleticism and speed both speak for themselves, and with good BP power there are enough tools here to follow in the next few years. That said, considerable work is ahead if Liberato is to actualize it all and be a big league contributor. I ultimately think he’ll settle into a bench outfield role at ceiling, with a realistic possibility that he’ll never be more than an up-and-down/emergency depth option who never quite reaches full prospect potential because of major offensive struggles.

Overall Future Potential (Future Value): Platoon/bench outfielder — definite defensive chops but significant strides to make offensively (40)

MLB ETA: 2020


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Bobby DeMuro

Bobby DeMuro is the founder of Baseball Census. A former college and independent league baseball player, he now watches more than 200 games a year working full time for the site. You can follow him on Twitter @BobbyDeMuro for more.

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