Prospect Bickford suspended 50 games
Right-hander tests positive for a drug of abuse for second time
MILWAUKEE -- Right-hander Phil Bickford, the Brewers' No. 5 prospect and the No. 54 prospect in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com, has been suspended 50 games following a second positive test for a drug of abuse, Major League Baseball announced on Friday.
The Brewers acquired Bickford, 21, in a trade with the Giants at the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"We are very disappointed to learn of Phil's suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner's Office," Brewers general manager David Stearns said in a statement. "Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience."
Stearns declined further comment on the suspension. If Bickford fails another test for a drug of abuse, he would be suspended for a full season. For a fourth and subsequent failed test, the suspension is at the discretion of the Commissioner, up to a lifetime ban from Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball.
By rule, Friday's announcement did not specify the substance that triggered Bickford's positive test. His first positive test was just before the 2015 Draft for marijuana, MLB.com's Jim Callis confirmed at the time. Bickford was 19 and pitching for the College of Southern Nevada, having opted not to sign two years earlier after the Blue Jays made him the 10th overall pick in '13. He was subject to drug testing because he ranked among the Major League Scouting Bureau's top 200 Draft prospects.
Players are subject to suspensions for marijuana use if they are not on a club's 40-man roster. The Brewers won't have to add Bickford to their 40-man roster until November 2018.
The Giants selected Bickford 18th overall, and he pitched parts of two seasons in their Minor League system before being traded along with catcher Andrew Susac for left-handed reliever Will Smith. Bickford finished the 2016 season with the Brewers' Class A Advanced Brevard County club, going 2-1 with a 3.67 ERA in six games (five starts).
Bickford is the third-ranked pitcher in the Brewers' prospect chain, per MLBPipeline, behind Josh Hader and Luis Ortiz. He's the 12th-best right-handed pitching prospect in baseball, according to MLBPipeline.com's rankings.