Reyes suspended 50 games for positive drug test
Cardinals top prospect had been set to start AFL's Fall Stars Game
ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals top prospect Alex Reyes, who was projected to crack the Major League roster at some point in 2016, will have that arrival delayed after being hit with a 50-game suspension for a second positive test for a drug of abuse in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Reyes, in a statement provided to MLB.com by his agent, acknowledged that the positive test was triggered by marijuana usage. It was the right-hander's second positive test for the drug. The first did not result in a suspension.
"I take full responsibility for my actions and apologize for disappointing my family, fans, teammates and the St. Louis Cardinals organization," Reyes, 21, said in the statement. "I acknowledge my inappropriate behavior and will accept the consequences. Baseball is my passion, and I will do everything in my power to put this behind me and move forward."
The suspension begins immediately, meaning that Reyes' time in the Arizona Fall League has come to an abrupt end. He had been scheduled to start in the AFL's Fall Stars Game on Saturday but was replaced on the roster on Friday and is instead headed back to the Dominican Republic to begin his offseason. Because the suspension includes AFL games, he will miss only the first 40 games of the 2016 season.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak learned of the positive drug test late last week.
"Clearly it's disappointing," Mozeliak said on Monday. "You look at how well he was pitching this last year and having the success that he was having in the Fall League, his opportunities at the Major League level would have been very high. This is definitely a setback. As he works through his suspension, he can work out at our complex and participate in extended [spring training], but it's definitely going to slow him down."
Because Reyes will be limited to extended spring training games for the first several weeks of the 2016 season, the Cardinals are unlikely to bring him in as a non-roster invitee to Major League camp.
Reyes' absence next April/May will hinder his development and hurt the Cardinals' pitching depth. Although Reyes was not expected to compete for a Major League roster spot in Spring Training, he was viewed as a candidate for a midseason summons.
"I did think he would contribute at the Major League level next year," Mozeliak said. "That's still a possibility, but this is certainly a large speed bump."
What was never in question is Reyes' talent. This year, he made 13 starts at the Class A Advanced level before earning a midseason promotion to Double-A, where he posted a 3.63 ERA. Over the full season, Reyes recorded a 2.49 ERA, 151 strikeouts and limited opponents to a .197 batting average in 101 1/3 innings. He missed the All-Star Futures Game in July due to shoulder fatigue, but returned without issue later in the month.
He continued to shine in the Fall League, striking out 12 and allowing one run in his first three outings (11 2/3 innings) before allowing five runs in a 3 1/3-inning start on Monday. He walked 10 in his four starts combined.
The Cardinals signed Reyes for $950,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2012, shortly after he established residency after playing baseball at Elizabeth (N.J.) High. By moving out of the U.S., Reyes could sign as a free agent and not be constrained by Draft spending rules.
Reyes is the second Cardinals player suspended under baseball's Drug Prevention and Treatment Program in the last two months. In September, catcher Cody Stanley was handed an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. It was the second PED-related suspension for Stanley, who was with the Major League team as a backup at the time the suspension was announced.
Mozeliak said the Cardinals will work with their Employee Assistance Program to get Reyes any help he may need.
"In terms of frustration, these young men are high school and college age and mistakes happen," Mozeliak said. "At every level, you understand the repercussions. Clearly, he made a bad decision."