In Australia, a teen pitcher becomes the country’s first female professional pitcher.
Remember the Fox show Pitch, which aired in 2016? “What if there was a female pitcher in Major League Baseball?” was the theme of that show. Despite rave accolades from reviewers and audiences alike, the show was cancelled after one season, with detractors labelling it “cliché.”
In essence, several viewers saw the show as a farce that they couldn’t believe. Those folks should start believing because female professional pitchers are appearing on the other side of the globe.
Meet Genevieve Beacom, the Melbourne Aces’ 17-year-old southpaw reliever. Beacom is the first woman to pitch professionally in Australia as of this morning.
Beacom made her debut in the sixth inning, pitching a shutout inning with zero hits and two walks. Despite the fact that the Adelaide Giants won the game 7-1, Beacom was a bright spot on an otherwise bleak day for the Aces. While you can argue that Beacom got lucky all you want, I’d want to make a counterpoint…
Beacom throws a fantastic breaking ball. If you ask me, that’s a 12-6 curve that reminds me of Barry Zito in his peak. Is it possible that I’m exaggerating? Maybe, but she’s 17, for crying out loud! The longer she plays, the more she can refine that breaker and turn it into a truly destructive weapon.
Beacom’s release point is much more spectacular than the pitch itself. As you can see in the overlay, there’s almost no difference between where she throws her fastball and where she throws her curve. Pitching without tipping your pitches is one of the most fundamental components of the game. For someone her age, Beacom’s ability to make each of her pitches look the same is outstanding.
Hitters will look for any nugget of information to figure out if the next pitch sent their way will be 90 mph or 75 mph, so her ability to make each of her pitches look the same is impressive. When I analyzed down the film frame by frame, I noticed that she does slightly more over-the-top with her breaking ball, but the difference is so minor that even Major League hitters would have a hard time recognizing it in real at-bats.
Beacom’s fastball sits between 80 and 84 mph, according to MLB Trade Rumors, which is close to the quickest pitch ever recorded by a female pitcher. Ginny Baker, the fictional superstar from the show I referenced at the start of this article, had a fastball that reached 87 mph. So, potentially, we’re not that far removed from the “unrealistic” world depicted in that 2016 television drama.
There are pitchers in Major League Baseball today who are unable to reach 90 mph but have dominated their opponents. Two of the top-16 current pitchers with at least 200 career innings pitched have an average fastball velocity under 90 mph: Richard Bleier of the Marlins and Aaron Loup of the Angels.
So, as long as a woman can show the same amount of control and ability to make weak contact as Bleier or Loup did during their careers, she’d only need to raise her velocity a few notches to officially be on par with current Major League pitchers. Remember, she’s a lefty pitcher, which is always in demand.
We’re still decades away from seeing the first-ever female Major League Baseball player, but as long as ladies like Beacom continue to emerge, it’ll only be a matter of time.