Former IU Star Saalfrank Suspended By MLB For Betting On Baseball

Posted on June 4, 2024

Former Indiana baseball star Andrew Saalfrank has received a one-year suspension from Major League Baseball for betting on games. The former Big Ten Pitcher of the Year was one of five players punished for violating the league’s betting rules.

The 26-year-old is a native of Fort Wayne and is a left-handed relief pitcher for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Despite assigning him to the team’s triple-A affiliate at the outset of the 2024 season, the Diamondbacks rostered him during the franchise’s 2023 World Series run.

The team selected him in the sixth round of the 2019 MLB Draft.

Saalfrank’s bets totaled less than $500

Indiana sports betting became legal in 2019. Saalfrank’s one-year punishment was in accordance with Major League Rule 21, which prohibits betting on baseball games.

“Any player, umpire, or Club or League official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform, shall be declared ineligible for one year.”

The MLB said Saalfrank placed 29 bets between Sept. 9, 2021, and March 9, 2022. One wager was on a college baseball game, while the other 28 were MLB-related. He wagered $445.87 on MLB bets and only won five of them, taking a net loss of $272.64. He lost his $1.80 wager on the college game.

His bets included parlays and sometimes multiple MLB-related legs, according to MLB officials.

“Saalfrank’s bets varied, including who would win the game, the over/under of strikeouts by a pitcher, or whether there would be more or less than a certain number of runs scored in the game.”

The league said Saalfrank didn’t bet on any games involving the Diamondbacks or any he played in.

“There is no evidence to suggest – and Saalfrank denies – that any outcomes in the baseball games on which he placed bets were compromised, influenced or manipulated in any way.”

A legal sports betting operator informed the league of the violations and provided authentication data.

Multiple MLB suspensions in one day

The other players punished include Tucupita Marcano, who received a lifetime ban for betting on MLB games while playing for the San Diego Padres.

Three other players received one-year suspensions for placing MLB-related bets: Padres minor-league pitcher Jay Groome, Oakland Athletics pitcher Michael Kelly and Philadelphia Phillies minor-league infielder José Rodriguez.

None of the players, including Saalfrank, are appealing the MLB’s decision.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said that players’ betting on MLB games tears at the very fabric of the game.

“The strict enforcement of Major League Baseball’s rules and policies governing gambling conduct is a critical component of upholding our most important priority: protecting the integrity of our games for the fans. The longstanding prohibition against betting on Major League Baseball games by those in the sport has been a bedrock principle for over a century. We have been clear that the privilege of playing in baseball comes with a responsibility to refrain from engaging in certain types of behavior that are legal for other people.”

Manfred also reiterated the league’s partnerships with operators to monitor betting activity and educate players. The violations came to light after the league completed an investigation that began in March after receiving a tip from an operator.

“Since the Supreme Court decision opened the door to legalized sports betting, we have worked with licensed sports betting operators and other third parties to put ourselves in a better position from an integrity perspective through the transparency that a regulated sports betting system can provide. MLB will continue to invest heavily in integrity monitoring, educational programming and awareness initiatives with the goal of ensuring strict adherence to this fundamental rule of our game.”

Major and Minor League players undergo mandatory responsible gaming education during spring training.

Photo by AP Photo / Matt York
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Cheryl Coward

Cheryl Coward is a contributor for PlayIndiana with a background in sports journalism. She started her career as a news reporter in Washington, DC. She’s a die-hard women’s basketball fanatic and founded the website as a result of that passion.

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