Three members of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans were suspended for 50 games each on Friday for failed drug tests.
Shortstop Amadeo Zazueta, second baseman Albaro "Yoel" Campusano and first baseman/outfielder Gerardo Rodriguez, who leads the team with eight home runs and 24 RBIs, each tested positive for an amphetamine that is classified by baseball as a banned, performance-enhancing drug, according to an announcement from the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball. The three were out of town with the team Friday at the Wilmington Blue Rocks.
The failed tests are in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The suspensions began immediately after Friday afternoon's announcement, according the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball.
The Pelicans are the advanced Class A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves organization, and Friday the Braves signed a pair of minor league free agents - Daniel Nelson and Michael Jones - who were both playing for Carolina League foes of the Pelicans last year. They were added to the Myrtle Beach roster for Friday's game with Wilmington.
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Braves Director of Player Development Kurt Kemp said he was informed of the substance the players tested positive for and the dates of the tests, but said he was not at liberty to discuss the details.
He said players are subject to random testing year-round, and must inform the body that conducts the testing of their whereabouts in the offseason.
Though both the Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball drug prevention and treatment programs are governed by the office of Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, they are separate programs and the drug testing is administered by separate bodies.
Kemp said the Braves also have their own testing program, but the test the three Pelicans failed was administered as part of the Minor League program.
"We are disappointed with the choices these young players have made," Braves general manager Frank Wren told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a text message. "We fully support the Commissioner's program and we will continue to educate our players on the harmful effects of PEDs."
The Braves have had a few minor leaguers suspended for positive tests in the past few years, but none was playing in Myrtle Beach. "They can happen for a variety of different reasons, but in all cases they have tested positive for a banned substance," said Kemp, who added that a couple of players in past years were suspended for not reporting a medication they were taking.
Any further discipline of the players by the Braves, including a possible release from the organization, hasn't been determined.
"We haven't made those decisions at all," Kemp said.
The three suspended players were with the Pelicans in Wilmington, and none was having particularly good seasons.
Rodriguez appears to be the best prospect among the three as a power hitter. In addition to leading the team in homers and doubles this season, he hit 23 home runs and drove in 83 runs in 123 games last year between low-A Rome and Myrtle Beach. He's batting just .239 with a whopping 65 strikeouts in 163 at-bats this season, however.
Campusano is batting .192 with three homers, 11 RBIs and a .293 on-base percentage in 36 games this season, while Zazueta is hitting .163 with two homers, seven RBIs and a .189 OBP in 23 games.
Nelson replaced Campusano at second base Friday. He batted .262 in 92 games last season at Potomac with six homers, 22 doubles and 16 stolen bases, and was released by the Washington Nationals organization a couple weeks ago after batting .260 in 22 games this season.
Jones replaced Rodriguez at first base Friday. The sturdy 6-foot-3 lefthanded hitter batted .283 with six home runs and 59 RBIs in 83 games at Salem, but was released by the Boston Red Sox organization prior to this season.