Eddie Rosario, one of the Twins' brightest minor-league prospects, has been suspended for the first 50 games of the 2014 season after failing a drug test for the second time, Major League Baseball announced on Saturday.
Rosario, an outfielder and second baseman, failed a test for a "drug of abuse," the commissioner's office said, mandating a 50-game penalty under the sport's Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. News of Rosario's potential suspension leaked in November but was not confirmed by MLB at the time.
"It's disappointing, but now he has to pay the consequences and be accountable," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "Losing 50 games, that's a huge setback. That's a lot of development time, a lot of learning that he'll miss. It sets back his progression [toward] going up to the big leagues. But young people make mistakes, and hopefully he learns from it."
Rosario, in a statement released Saturday by his agent Melvin Roman, said he already had. "I made a mistake and have no one but myself to blame," Rosario's statement, which included an apology to Ryan, the Twins and "my fans, teammates and family," said. "I intend to learn from this mistake and continue development in both professional and personal growth. I look forward to returning to the field in May and will do my best to put this unfortunate incident behind me."
The native of Puerto Rico, ranked by Baseball America as the seventh-best prospect in the Twins system before the 2013 season, batted .329 in 52 games with Class A Fort Myers last year before being promoted to Class AA New Britain, where he hit .284 with seven home runs in 70 games. The Twins thought so much of Rosario's potential, they included him among the seven prospects they sent in October to the Arizona Fall League, where he batted .238 in 20 games against advanced competition.
Now Rosario, 22, will come to spring training in March as scheduled, and will take part in drills and exhibition games. But once the season begins, Rosario will likely remain behind in Fort Myers, Ryan said. "We'll keep him under our eye, whether it's at spring camp or somewhere else," Ryan said. "That's a sizable part of the season, but that's the price you pay for not being responsible enough to understand right from wrong."
He must wait until the team he is assigned to plays 50 games in 2014 -- if it's New Britain again, Rosario would be eligible to return on May 25 (or later if there are rainouts) -- and will be required to undergo additional drug testing during the season. A third positive test would result in a 100-game suspension. The suspension is for an undisclosed "drug of abuse," such as marijuana or cocaine, as distinct from a a performance-enhancing drug, which brings a 100-game suspension for a first offense.
Rosario is the second Twins minor leaguer to be suspended for failing a drug test this offseason. In September, Cedar Rapids pitcher Dallas Gallant received a 50-game suspension for testing positive for an amphetamine.