Marcus Stroman, taken in the First Round of this past June’s Amateur Draft, was handed a 50 game suspension late Tuesday afternoon for failing a drug test and violating Major League Baseball’s drug prevention program. Stroman was widely believed to be the most “MLB-ready” pitcher in this past June’s draft, leading the Toronto Blue Jays to select him at the #22 overall pick. His failed drug test was due to the presence of a stimulant, methylhexaneamine, according to MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm.
After signing for $1.8 Million out of Duke University, Stroman began his professional career with Toronto’s Class-A affiliate, the Vancouver Canadians. There he posted a 1-0 record and 3.18 ERA over 7 appearances out of the bullpen. The Blue Jays then bumped him up to Double-A New Hampshire, where he was 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA in 8 more games. In all, he struck out 23 and walked 9 in his first 19.1 innings of work in the minor leagues.
There was an off chance the Blue Jays could summon him to the Major Leagues this September, though the chances of such a move were never high. Stroman will now miss the final seven games of New Hampshire’s season and will have to sit through the first 43 games of the 2013 season, putting his return to the mound in mid-May at the earliest. It’s a harsh penalty for Stroman, who many believed could be a factor come next Spring Training for the Jays. But give the kid some credit, as he is owning up to his mistakes.
Despite taking precautions to avoid violating the Minor League testing program, I unknowingly ingested a banned stimulant that was in an over-the-counter supplement. Nonetheless, I accept full responsibility and I want to apologize to the Toronto Blue Jays organization, my family, my teammates, and Blue Jays fans everywhere. I look forward to putting this behind me and rejoining my teammates.
The Toronto Blue Jays, like most other organizations hold seminars each year at Spring Training to teach their minor league players what to look for in supplements they can purchase at local stores. It’s an effort to educate the players on as many aspects of the performance enhancing drug testing program as possible. Having just joined the organization after signing in July, Stroman would not have had the benefit of such a program. Even still, he’s accepting the responsibility for carefully checking what it is that he is ingesting.
To no surprise, the Blue Jays organization was not exactly pleased with the news. But Assistant GM Tony LaCava, per quotes passed along by Chisholm, is viewing the situation as best he can:
My natural reaction is disappointment. Obviously, you never expect something like this to happen. That being said, it’s a stiff penalty for him to pay. He unknowingly took a product that was over the counter that had a stimulant in it, and the burden is on the player, so he’s obviously going to pay the price. To his credit, he’s standing up to it. He acknowledges that it was his responsibility, he made a mistake, he ingested it and he’s accountable for that. The 50 games is the price he’s going to have to pay.
Baseball has been flush with suspensions in recent weeks, first starting with Melky Cabrera’s failed drug test and then followed by that of Bartolo Colon. The Tampa Bay Rays have also seen four minor league players suspended in recent weeks, one for performance enhancing drugs and three others for drugs of abuse. There isn’t much of a silver lining for Stroman here, but the incident comes early enough in his career that he should get at least a fair chance to prove himself once he’s eligible to return.