After an international draft protest prompted Major League Baseball to cancel its Dominican national showcase last week, MLB quickly responded by surprising players with drug tests.
MLB had scheduled its two-day showcase for Wednesday and Thursday last week, but with players planning to skip the event as a protest against an international draft, MLB cancelled the showcase on Tuesday night. The protest drew the ire of MLB officials. Beginning on Wednesday, MLB told several players who were on the showcase roster that they needed to take drug tests, according to multiple sources, with some players reporting the following day for testing. Not all of the players invited to the showcase were told they needed to get drug tested. MLB did not respond to a request for comment.
The players, who are 15 and 16, will be eligible to sign next year beginning on July 2. MLB does drug test the players it determines to be the top amateur prospects in Latin America on a pre-contract basis, though those tests typically don’t occur until the year in which the players are eligible to sign. Players who test positive for a banned substance on a pre-contract basis are not subject to suspension, though teams will know the results of a player’s test if they inquire with the commissioner’s office.
Given the timing, the decision to drug test players could be retaliation for the protest, raising further questions about the way the commissioner’s office uses its power and treats Latin American amateur players, though it’s unlikely teams will mind having more drug test results available on amateur prospects. The use of anabolic steroids is a problem throughout baseball, from the major league level to the amateur ranks, including in Latin America. Several Latin American amateur players who became eligible to sign this year on July 2 tested positive for steroids, and some club officials suspect players are put on steroids at 14 and 15, only to cycle off in time to avoid detection.