Braves converting David Fletcher into… a pitcher?

David Fletcher

The start to David Fletcher’s career as a member of the Atlanta Braves could not be any more odd. Acquired in a trade with the Angels this past offseason, Fletcher was expected to be a valuable piece of Atlanta’s bench. To this date, he’s spent most of his time with the Gwinnett Stripers, appearing in just five games for the Braves. However, David Fletcher might have two of the more intriguing storylines of the entire season.

For starters, the former Los Angeles Angel was recently connected to Ippei Mizuhara, Shohei Ohtani’s former interpreter who was infamously caught stealing money from Ohtani to place millions of dollars in illegal wagers. According to a report from Trisha Thompson of ESPN, Fletcher has also been accused of placing bets with the same illegal bookmaker,

“David Fletcher, a former Los Angeles Angels infielder currently playing for the Atlanta Braves’ Triple-A affiliate, and his friend, who also played in the minor leagues, both bet on sports with the Southern California bookmaker who took wagers from Shohei Ohtani’s longtime interpreter, according to multiple sources detailing the activities,” reports Trisha Thompson for ESPN. 

It’s also worth noting that David Fletcher and Shohei Ohtani were good friends while on the Angels, so while I’m sure MLB would love to sweep this under the rug, there could be more to this story.

“Fletcher, who was Ohtani’s teammate from 2018 to 2023 and has been described as one of his closest friends in baseball, placed bets with the bookmaking operation of Mathew Bowyer, according to the sources. Ohtani’s former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, also bet with Bowyer and eventually stole nearly $17 million from the Japanese superstar to feed his addiction, according to prosecutors.”

However, while that investigation is ongoing, David Fletcher remains with the Stripers, but he seems to have a new role. He started yesterday’s game on the mound for Gwinnett, and he’s not just any type of pitcher, he’s a knuckleballer that’s having some success.

Last night, Fletcher tossed five innings of two-run ball, allowing just three hits with six strikeouts, including this one off top MLB prospect Jackson Holliday.

This was David Fletcher’s first start of the season, but it was his fifth appearance as a pitcher. He’s sporting a less-than-impressive 6.55 ERA over 11.0 innings, but that knuckleball is legit.

It feels as if this was just a spot where the Stripers needed an emergency start with so many arms shuffling from Gwinnett to Atlanta due to injuries, and wanted to see what Fletcher could offer. But I’m more than intrigued to see this again. Perhaps David Fletcher could become a much bigger piece to a team later on in his career as a pitcher.

Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire

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