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Blue Jays top Draft pick handed 50-game suspension

NEW YORK -- One of the Blue Jays' first-round picks from the 2012 First-Year Player Draft has been suspended for 50 games for use of a banned substance.

Right-hander Marcus Stroman, who signed for $1.8 million as the No. 22 overall pick, was suspended for using methylhexaneamine, a stimulant.

Stroman was briefly with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, his second professional team after joining the short-season Class A Vancouver Canadians. The native of New York was 3-0 with a 3.26 ERA, 23 strikeouts and nine walks in 19 1/3 innings between the two stops.

"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," Stroman said in a statement.

"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."

Stroman appeared in 17 games as a junior at Duke University earlier this year. He went 3-4 with a 2.80 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings. He recorded four saves, also making eight starts, but had been exclusively pitching in relief with the Blue Jays' organization.

The 21-year-old was generally considered the closest to being Major League-ready from the 2012 Draft class. There was a chance he would have become a September callup, and he figured to compete for a spot on the big league club next spring.

Instead, Stroman will now miss the final seven games of the Fisher Cats' season and the first 43 games next year. He would not be eligible to appear in a game until mid-May of 2013, which is a major blow to not only the Blue Jays but his chances for making a strong impact next year.

"My natural reaction is disappointment," said Blue Jays assistant general manager Tony LaCava, who oversees Minor League development. "Obviously, you never expect something like that 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."

NSF International is an organization that provides each Major League team with a list of supplements that are safe to use and won't violate baseball's drug policy. The Blue Jays pass along this information to all of their players, but Stroman ended up taking something that was not pre-approved.

Stroman reportedly purchased a substance that is legal for United States citizens to use, but falls outside the guidelines of most professional sports.

The Blue Jays put all of their players through a Spring Training seminar about what to watch out for when it comes to performance-enhancing substances. Stroman wouldn't have taken part in that classroom setting because he didn't sign with the organization until July 3.

Even so, the fact that Stroman deviated from the pre-approved products ultimately led to the positive test.

"The education process begins immediately, but in his case, obviously this product was not something that was approved, and he took it," LaCava said. "It's unfortunate."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB.
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