MLB announced that four minor leaguers have been suspended for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, but one of the suspensions caught my eye.
Astros right-hander Euris Quezada, who’d been pitching at low Single-A, was suspended 25 games for what Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports as “unauthorized possession of a syringe.”
The other three minor leaguers–Luis Flores of the Cubs, Kennys Vargas of the Twins, and free agent Emanuel Ramirez–each received 50-game suspensions for testing positive for actual banned substances, but apparently players also have to get approval to possess and use a syringe too.
In fact, Quezada is the third minor leaguer this season to be suspended 25 games for syringe possesion, as free agent Robinson Fabian and Hector Taveras of the Royals also got the same ban back in April.
Bryce Harper has, in recent years, declined participation in the Home Run Derby, with his last go at it coming in 2013, losing to Yoenis Cespedes in the final round. With the All-Star Game taking place at Nationals Park in Washington, however, he has changed his mind, saying today that he will compete if he is selected for the All-Star team.
Harper is currently second in voting among National League outfielders, so he stands a pretty good chance of making it. Even if he falls off in the voting, you have to assume that the powers that be will nudge NL manager A.J. Hinch to select Harper as a reserve, partially because of his actual power — he does have 19 homers so far this year — but mostly for his star power.
Simply put, you know dang well that both Major League Baseball and the Nationals want a home town guy with big time star power in the Derby, even if he’s not having as good a year as he’s capable of. As such, figure to see Harper hitting long balls in D.C. on July 16.