Orioles’ former first-round pick Billy Rowell suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

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It took Billy Rowell six seasons to reach Double-A after Baltimore selected him out of high school with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2006 draft and he hasn’t played yet this season because he’s moving from hitter to pitcher.

And now his mound debut will have to wait even longer, as the 23-year-old first baseman-turned-pitcher has been suspended 50 games for a second positive drug test.

According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun the suspension is for a drug of abuse, which means it wasn’t a performance-enhancing substance.

Rowell was a non-prospect as a hitter because of a .389 career slugging percentage and he was set to begin his pitching career all the way down in rookie-ball.

Rowell is the third Orioles minor leaguer to receive a 50-game suspension this season.

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics