• College Athlete Advantage

Arizona's top 2018 high school stars discuss recruiting process as a blue chip prospect.

CAA Regional Advisor Kurt Vesecky had a chance sit down and chat with three of the top prep players in Arizona for the 2018 Class.  These players all ended up getting drafted and signed professional baseball contracts.  

Matthew Liberatore was taken in the 1st round (16th pick overall) by the Tampa Rays.

Jonathan Ornelas was taken in the 3rd round by the Texas Rangers.

Nolan Gorman was taken in the 1st round (19th overall) by the St. Louis Cardinals.

"These three guys are special to me - they are like sons. Playing for me and seeing them grow from nine years old to professional baseball is something you only dream of", said Vesecky.

What grade were you in when you first talked to a college coach about a possible recruitment to their school?

Liberatore  - It was the summer after my freshman year. 

Ornelas - It was my sophomore year in high school.  I was playing in a club ball tournament when after a game I was approached by a college coach for the first time.

Gorman - I talked to my first college about a possible recruitment to their school summer going into sophomore year of high school.

From that point on, how long did the recruiting process last for you?

Liberatore-  About 1 year and 3 months.

Ornelas - My recruiting process was much different then most players. I got a little bit of attention early, but then it died off for awhile until summer of 2017 which was going into my Senior year. From there I did not commit anywhere until the fall of 2018, my graduating year. 

Gorman - The recruiting process lasted for a short time as I committed to the University of Arizona in August of my sophomore year. 

How many schools did you talk to? Name them. How many did you seriously consider?

Liberatore- I talked to about 25 schools. The ones I seriously considered were U of A, Ole Miss, Florida, Virginia and Oregon St. 

Ornelas -I had very many options because I decided to be patient. Some options I had were Tennessee, Arizona, Arizona State, GCU, Oregon, Utah, New Mexico, New Mexico State, Long Beach State, Cal Poly, UCSB, Kansas, Washington State, St. Louis, San Jose State, UC Irvine, Fresno State, Cal, Nebraska, USD, Central CC and Yavapai CC. 

Gorman - One. My dream school was LSU but as I thought about it more I wanted to be closer to home for family and for them to be able to come see me play, but far enough away to where I felt like I was not at home. 

Who did you lean on for advice during the college selection process?

Liberatore -  I leaned on my dad and my summer coach, Joe Mercadante, for advice. 

Ornelas - For the most part I would talk to my club coaches and just my family to try and make the best decision possible for me. 

Gorman - I used my summer baseball coaches as one of them was the coach at the University of Miami and UCF, so he had many contacts. 

What grade were you in when you realized the MLB draft was going to be a real possibility?

Liberatore-My junior year.

Ornelas - For me as a late bloomer the MLB draft didn't really appear to me as a possibility until senior year as it was after I had played well at the Area Code games in Long Beach and committed to the University of Tennessee. 

Gorman - I realized the MLB Draft was a possible thing summer going into junior year when I would compete with guys older than me that were top draft guys and perform at their level. I also started talking to agents who would talk to me about the draft as they have many contacts within the professional and amateur scouting department. 

How did the college recruiting process differ from the pro process?

Liberatore - With the pro recruiting process, it was a lot more like an interview for me, where as the college recruiting process was almost like the school interviewed for me.

Ornelas - It was a little different as for college you could go visit the campus and experience the life of a college athlete. For the pro process there really isn't any experiences you can take before deciding, just visits from any area scout. 

Gorman - In college you got to visit with the coaches and see the campus and all of the facilities. In pro ball you meet with scouts but they are not coaches at the same time, so you have to ask a ton of questions to get a feel for how the organization is run. 

How did having a huge number of scouts at you game effect you?

Liberatore- It made me perform better. I love to perform under pressure.

Ornelas - For me, it really did not affect me or my performance and it never really should as you just have to be you and play your game. I played the same whether there is 100 scouts or 1 scout watching.

Gorman - You don't realize it puts pressure on you at the time because you want to think you are prepared for it. But, in reality your mind tells you that you need to do something special making you try harder. 

Did you feel pressure to perform a certain way your senior year since you came into the season as a potential top round pick?

Liberatore- No. I just wanted to go out and perform to the best of my abilities every time out. 

Ornelas - To me there was no pressure I just wanted to perform the best I could for my team and my family. 

Gorman - Looking back at it and not knowing it at the time I did feel pressure. It was very unnecessary because they are there to watch you do what you are capable of doing which is what I did to even get them to start scouting me.

What was the best event you attended for exposure?

Liberatore Events like the PG All American and the UA All America games probably gave me the best exposure. 

Ornelas - I definitely feel that the Area Code games was the event that had the most scouts by far. I remember the Area Code page posted a picture one day of having over 500 scouts at the field for the games that day. 

Gorman - The WWBA tournament in Jupiter, FL 

How would you describe your first season in pro ball?

Liberatore - It was an adjustment to a much more regimented and routine oriented schedule. Other than that it wasn't too difficult. Just getting adjusted to living on my own and going out and doing what I need to do.

Ornelas -  My first season went incredibly well! There was many adjustments that had to be made as the jump from high school ball to pro ball is huge. It is a grind because it is now your job to be completely focused and committed to baseball and there is no slacking off and no off days. 

Gorman -My first year in pro ball went extremely well and I learned so many things about myself on and off the field. 

For more information about the College Athlete Advantage Recruiting Program please call Mike Orchard @ 407-489-7509 or email:

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