The Cardinals will be without their top prospect, and best pitching prospect since Carlos Martinez, for the first part of the 2016 season due to marijuana. Alex Reyes, 21, signed with the Cardinals in 2012 out of the Dominican Republic for a bonus of $850,000 and has since propelled his way to the top of the prospect rankings for a recently depleted farm system.
Reyes had an impressive season between rookie, Class-A, and Double-A. Just looking at his Double-A numbers, he struck out 52 batters in 34 2/3 innings. Reyes has been pitching for the Surprise Sanguaros in the Arizona Fall League, and was slated to start in the league’s All-Star game before being pulled.
The suspension marks Reyes’ second positive test for a drug of abuse in the minor league program. Reyes will miss the rest of the Arizona Fall League games, as well as the first part of the 2016 season. He released an official statement via Twitter.
I’d like to apologize to everyone. I made mistake and i take full responsibility for it. pic.twitter.com/P1h2n5yIJi
— Alex Reyes (@AlexReyes_67) November 9, 2015
For the Cardinals, this is a big loss, and once again sparks questions of the minor league baseball drug policy. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports has written extensively on the discrepancies between major and minor league drug testing policies. There is no players union representing the minor leagues, so testing positive for marijuana results in suspensions. Reyes is on his second suspension(50 games), but if he tests positive again, the suspension is 100 games, and if he somehow tests positive a fourth time, he’s kicked out of baseball…forever.
For major leaguers however, testing positive results in possible treatment and more drug tests, and eventually, fines, but no games missed. Not to make excuses for Reyes, as marijuana is on the list of substances you will be suspending for testing positive for, but suspensions of top prospects do raise questions for their team. The Astros signed Jonathan Singleton to a major league contract worth over $30 million partly due to him being a “marijuana addict”. Instead of risking Singleton getting suspended again for marijuana, the Astros rewarded him with a contract.
When marijuana suspensions occur, Twitter can freak out or ask questions about whether Reyes smoked marijuana in a state where it is legal. None of those variables matter at the end of the day. Minor leaguers are simply not protected in the same sense that major league players are, and minor leaguers have to adjust to that for now. In the meantime, Passan will still be fighting for awareness on what he thinks represent outdated rules from baseball.
Let’s just get this out of the way: Nobody should be suspended for marijuana. Period. End of story. A ridiculous, outdated from from MLB. — Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) November 9, 2015