Braves' David Fletcher continuing to play in minors amid reported MLB investigation into illegal bets

ATLANTA, GA - APRIL 23: David Fletcher #22 of Atlanta Braves makes a throw to first during the seventh inning against the Miami Marlins at Truist Park on April 23, 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)
David Fletcher reportedly introduced Ippei Mizuhara to the bookie behind MLB's biggest scandal of 2024. (Photo by Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images)

David Fletcher is continuing to play in the Atlanta Braves' minor-league system while MLB probes a report of him gambling illegally.

The infielder was in the lineup for the Triple-A Gwinnett Stripers on Tuesday, one day after ESPN reported that MLB had opened an investigation into his involvement with illegal bookmaker Mathew Bowyer, the same bookie involved in the Ippei Mizuhara-Shohei Ohtani scandal.

Fletcher was previously reported to have made bets on sports with Bowyer, but not on baseball. Placing illegal bets is still a violation of MLB rules, though, with punishment at the discretion of commissioner Rob Manfred.

Another significant issue might be Fletcher's close friend Colby Schultz, a former Kansas City Royals minor leaguer. Schultz was reported to have placed bets on baseball, including Los Angeles Angels games in which Fletcher played. Schultz was identified as "Bookmaker 3" in the criminal complaint against Mizuhara, Ohtani's former interpreter.

Fletcher was already a bit player in the Mizuhara scandal, which culminated in the interpreter agreeing to plead guilty to two felonies after allegedly stealing $17 million from Ohtani. It was reportedly through Fletcher, Ohtani's Angels teammate for six years, that Mizuhara met Bowyer at a team hotel poker game.

ESPN notes that MLB's investigation will likely depend on information from the federal government, which has been investigating Bowyer for months, and Fletcher himself. The league is reportedly expected to reach out to law enforcement for assistance. Fletcher can reportedly refuse to cooperate if he can claim it could make him subject to criminal investigation.

Even before his involvement with Bowyer was reported, it had been a down year for Fletcher. His numbers took a step back in the three seasons after he signed a five-year, $26 million extension with the Angels in 2021. That slide culminated in a trade to the Braves last offseason, and with Atlanta, he is little more than organizational depth.

The 29-year-old Fletcher is hitting .244/.308/.261 at Triple-A this season and went 2-for-8 during a brief stint with the big-league club last month. If anything, his highlights have come on the mound, where he has become a knuckleball-throwing emergency reliever for the Stripers.