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.

Tigers sign Edwin Espinal to minor league deal

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Free agent first baseman Edwin Espinal has signed a minor league deal with the Tigers, the infielder announced Saturday. The move has yet to be confirmed by the team.

Espinal, 23, capped a seven-year run with the Pirates’ minor league affiliates in 2017. He split his season between Double-A Altoona and Triple-A Indianapolis, batting a cumulative .294/.327/.447 with 15 home runs and 31 doubles in 532 plate appearances. While he’s raked at nearly every level so far, he also profiles well on defense, and rounded off his 2017 performance with a perfect fielding percentage, 208 putouts and a Gold Glove award.

Espinal is untested at the major league level and it’s not yet clear if he’ll make the jump in 2018. He showed some positional versatility during his time in the minors, however, and could take reps at third base or DH if necessary. The Tigers are reportedly on the lookout for pitching depth and left-handed bats — two bills the right-handed Espinal doesn’t fit — and presumably have a lot of moves left to make this winter.