Nats minor leaguer suspended 50 games

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Major League Baseball just announced that Washington Nationals minor leaguer Zechry Zinicola has received a 50-game suspension.  Not PEDs, though. His suspension comes after a second violation of “a drug of abuse” pursuant to the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.  Two things:

1. I vaguely remember Zinicola pitching for the Columbus Clippers a few years ago during the two-year period the Clippers were a Nationals affiliate.  Note: everyone in Columbus has forgotten that the Clippers were a Nationals affiliate. It’s like it never happened. Sometimes I think I dreamed it;

2. I really wish they’d tell us what the “drugs of abuse” in question are for these things. Because depending on what the drug is, these suspensions could either be tragic or actually somewhat interesting. I mean, it’s never good to be on drugs, but it would tell us something very different about Zinicola if he was taking cocaine, for example, or if he was found in an opium den with some 19th century Chinese railroad workers down by the docks or something.

Anyway, Zinicola has an ERA of 4.05 in 293 minor league innings. So while this suspension is bad for him, it’s not exactly going to impact the Nats’ plans, I wouldn’t guess.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.