Liberato has career night in Nuts romp

Mariners prospect slugs fifth, sixth homers, drives in six runs

Luis Liberato ranks among the California League leaders in homers, RBIs, slugging percentage and OPS. (Ben Sandstrom)

By Katie Woo / MiLB.com | April 21, 2019 2:07 AM

After an early slump, Luis Liberato is making up for lost time at the plate.

The Mariners prospect crushed two homers and drove in a career-high six runs to lead Class A Advanced Modesto to a 13-2 victory over Stockton on Saturday night at Banner Island Ballpark.


Gameday box score 


The 23-year-old went 3-for-5 with a walk and two runs scored. He wasted no time getting the Nuts on the board, jumping on the first pitch he saw from Stockton starter Mitchell Jordan in the first inning and sending it over the center field fence for a three-run blast.

Liberato connected off Jordan for another big fly in the third, a solo shot over the wall in left on an 0-2 offering. The homers were his fifth and sixth of the season -- he didn't hit his sixth homer last year until June 12. 

"I put a good swing on the pitch and I knew the ball went out," he said. "The second one, I didn't know at first. I knew I hit it hard, but I thought it was a double."

The native of the Dominican Republic capped his big night in the ninth when he grounded a bases-loaded single to center off first baseman Hunter Hargrove, the Ports' fifth pitcher. Liberato eclipsed his previous career high of four RBIs, set on June 20, 2015 with Class A Short Season Everett.

"I knew the guy was going to throw slowly because he was a position player, so I just tried to hit the ball to the middle," he explained.

After spending half of the 2017 season with Modesto, Liberato posted a .250/.217/.424 slash line in 87 California League games last year. He was slow out of the gate this season, going 1-for-16 in his first four games. Since April 14, however, Liberato has recorded a hit in six of seven contests, including four straight. 

2019 MiLB include

"The support the team gives me every day is important to me," he said of the early slump. "Nothing changed at all, I just took my time."

The record-setting night bumped Liberato's average to .310 and his OPS to 1.034. He leads the California League with 15 RBIs and ranks second with a .655 slugging percentage.

Mariners No. 13 prospect Cal Raleigh delivered a two-run double on a three-hit night. Joe Rizzo, ranked 23rd in the Seattle system, went 3-for-5 with a double and two runs scored, while Connor Kopach slugged his first full-season homer.

A's No. 15 prospect Nick Allen went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and a walk out of the leadoff spot for the Ports.

Katie Woo is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiejwoo. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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