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TIMORE -- Former first-round pick Billy Rowell has received a 50-game suspension after a second violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a drug of abuse, Major League Baseball announced Monday afternoon.
The suspension of Rowell, who is currently on the roster of short-season Aberdeen of the New York-Penn League, will be effective at the start of the IronBirds' season on June 18. Rowell, who was listed as a third baseman, is the organization's third Minor Leaguer to get a 50-game suspension this season, joining catchers Brian Ward and Michael Ohlman, although his name is the most high-profile of the trio.
Baltimore made Rowell the ninth overall pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, a spot ahead of Giants ace and two-time National League Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum. A high-school slugger out of New Jersey, Rowell profiled as one of the nation's best young power hitters at the time, but has not lived up to those expectations. He spent three consecutive seasons in Class A, never advancing beyond Double-A, and was in extended spring in Sarasota as the organization tried to convert him to a pitcher. Rowell has hit .261 in six Minor League seasons and will join Ohlman and Ward in sitting out a good chunk of 2012.
"I am not going to get into comparing it to society. If there is one [player], it's a concern," manager Buck Showalter said of the three suspended players. "But unfortunately, it's part of the world we live in, and we try to keep it from happening.
"I don't really care to how it compares to other organizations or society in general, numbers, ratio -- I don't. I just don't want it happening with the Orioles. But I have children, and I understand the challenges that are out there. I'm not condoning anything."