Sources: Ex-Angels IF David Fletcher bet with Mizuhara bookie

ByTisha Thompson ESPN logo
Saturday, May 18, 2024

David Fletcher, a former Los Angeles Angels infielder currently playing for the Atlanta Braves' Triple-A affiliate, and a friend of his, 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.

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, sources said. 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.

Fletcher's close friend, Colby Schultz, who played in the Kansas City Royals' system from 2018 to 2020, placed bets on baseball, including on Angels games that Fletcher played in while he was on the team, sources told ESPN.

Fletcher bet on several sports but not baseball, sources said.

MLB players and employees are allowed to bet on sports other than baseball -- but not with illegal bookmakers such as Bowyer. The league rulebook states that players betting with illegal bookmakers are subject to punishment at the commissioner's discretion. A player who bets on baseball games in which he did not participate will be banned for one year. Any player who bets on his own games will be banned permanently.

MLB declined to comment, but a league source told ESPN that Fletcher had not previously been investigated but is now expected to be.

Fletcher did not respond to multiple requests for comment. He started at second base for Gwinnett in its game against the Memphis Redbirds on Friday night, batting second. Schultz could not be reached.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California declined to comment, as did the Braves.

Fletcher signed a five-year, $26 million extension with the Angels in 2021 that includes two option years in 2026 and 2027 worth $8 million and $8.5 million, respectively. The team traded him to the Braves in December.

While with the Angels, he was often described as Ohtani's closest friend on the team.

"We're good friends," Fletcher told ESPN on March 18 when asked about his relationship with Ohtani. "We would talk on the bus and at the hotel."

Sources described Schultz as one of Fletcher's best friends. The two men, who are both 29, grew up in Orange County, California. Fletcher often appears in Schultz's Instagram posts.

In the federal complaint against Mizuhara, authorities say Bowyer sent Mizuhara's wire information to an associate known as "Bookmaker 3." The sources told ESPN that Schultz is Bookmaker 3.

In the March interview, Fletcher told ESPN that he was present at the 2021 poker game in San Diego where Mizuhara first met Bowyer. Fletcher said he did not introduce the interpreter to the bookie but that Bowyer gained entry to the poker game at the team hotel through an acquaintance of Fletcher.

Fletcher also told ESPN in March that he had met Bowyer once before while playing golf and that he knew Bowyer was a bookmaker at the time of the poker game. He said he never placed a bet himself with Bowyer's organization.

ESPN's Paula Lavigne and T.J. Quinn contributed to this report.