Australia's two-way superstar Genevieve Beacom drawing Ohtani comparisons

August 17th, 2023

THUNDER BAY, Ontario -- Genevieve Beacom has always been the outlier. Growing up playing mostly on men's teams, one memory crystalizes that best in the 6-foot-2 lefty's mind: Playing in an under-12s competition, she faced an opponent who simply did not want to get in the box. It wasn't because he didn't want to hit against a girl, it's because he was terrified of her fastball.

"I remember him crying as the coach had to push him in the box because I threw so hard," Beacom told at the recently completed WBSC Women's World Cup in Thunder Bay. "That's definitely a memory that's stuck with me my entire life."

Did the left-hander take pity on the child? Did she take a few ticks off her fastball or groove any pitches in there? If that was your guess, you don't know Beacom.

"I was just gonna throw it as hard as I could anyway," Beacom said with a laugh.

And the outcome of that plate appearance?

"I struck him out," Beacom said, a sly grin spreading across her face.

When you meet the 18-year-old Australian wunderkind, you may not realize you're speaking with a trailblazer, a player who could one day be the face of women's baseball. Quiet and reserved, Beacom's off-the-field attitude belies the ferocity housed inside her left arm, the one that comes alive when she takes the mound or steps into the batter's box.

"I knew I had a chance probably in 2018," Beacom said about when she realized that she was pretty good at this whole baseball thing. "I remember I was pitching the gold medal game for the youth women's team in Victoria. That game, I had 17 strikeouts. I remember going home that night and thinking I could go somewhere with this."

Go somewhere she has: Armed with a mid-80s fastball -- most women in the sport throw in the mid-to-upper 70s -- and a dynamite curveball, the lanky teenager became the first woman to play in the Australian Baseball League when manager and former MLB player Peter Moylan added her to the Melbourne Aces' roster in 2022. She was included on the training camp roster for Australia's Under-18 men's team before last year's WBSC U-18 World Cup and has received rave reports from scouts, who are blown away by her raw ability regardless of gender.

On top of all that, she's picked up the bat again, too, at the behest of women's national team manager Jason Pospishil. She's already showing off triple-digit exit velocities.

"It's a pretty new thing for me," Beacom said. "I kind of put down the bat for a couple of years, and then when Pops asked me to hit again, I was so excited because I love hitting. It's so much fun. It's a great break from pitching because pitching is kind of boring sometimes. But no, I absolutely love hitting, and hopefully I can continue doing it as long as I hit the ball."

It's garnered her comparisons as the "Australian Ohtani" -- a moniker that Beacom is more than proud to have earned.

"It excites me so much," Beacom said. "I mean, it's an absolute honor to be compared to the him. He's amazing, he's phenomenal. To even be compared to him in any sort of sense -- it blows my mind. It's the biggest compliment. I can't believe it."

Beacom seemed to have little issue with the lumber in hand again. Though it was a difficult tournament for both Australia and Beacom -- the country went 2-3 and will not advance to next year's finals -- the powerful lefty held her own against some of the best in women's baseball. Beacom went 4-for-13 at the dish with a few deep fly balls that on another night -- or with a little bit of luck -- could have carried for extra-base hits.

The young lefty also struggled with her command during the tournament -- her first start against the United States was interrupted by a lengthy rain delay and she appeared to have an issue with her hand or fingers during her second appearance against Canada -- but Beacom still tied for second in strikeouts with eight despite pitching just 5 1/3 innings. (Show me a young fireballer who didn't have control issues when they were still a teen, too.)

Rather than a setback, it's simply something that Beacom can look at and grow from in the future. She recently spent time at Tread Athletics in North Carolina, a pitching development center that claims Pirates starter Mitch Keller among its acolytes, working on adding velocity and retooling her pitches. Though she gets the headlines with her mid-80s heat, that's not even Beacom's best pitch if you listen to her.

"I've always had my curveball," Beacom said. "I've always thought of it as my best pitch or my favorite pitch to throw, but I'm developing more pitches now and definitely getting some more control on them, more movement. I'm just continually working on my pitch design."

Chris Oxspring, a former big leaguer with the Tigers and her pitching coach with the national team, has seen her growth up close over the past year and a half.

"We work really well together," Oxspring said. "It's so much fun working with her and any kid like that. It's been enjoyable to watch her progress over the past 18 months, both as a player and a person."

He's seen how the young Beacom takes on new information and finds a way to use it -- whether it's Tread helping boost her fastball another few ticks or changing the shape of her breaking ball.

"Baseball's a game of trial and error, right? We're always trying to get better, whether it's 1% or 10%," Oxspring said. "She's so receptive to any kind of constructive criticisms that can make her better, but she's also really smart in the way that she goes about it. If she's tried it before, and it hasn't worked, then we don't waste time on that, we move on and we find another solution. Just to watch that development, that progress, and understanding what Gen's trying to accomplish, personally, is amazing."

As for the future, anything is still possible. Though the Australian women's national team won't have a World Cup to prepare for, Beacom will certainly find herself on a ballfield soon. She plans to take a gap year and then hopes to head to college where she'll play baseball and compete for a national title.

While Beacom hopes to smash new barriers and play in different countries around the world, she can be at ease knowing she's already made an enormous impact on the game she's devoted her life to.

"It was the day after I pitched for the Aces, a little girl came up to me and said, 'I started playing baseball again because of you,'" Beacom told WBSC. "It's the most heartwarming thing I've ever had said to me. Just knowing that me playing the game that I love has helped someone gain that love back for the sport and make them want to play again."