NEW YORK -- Blue Jays left-hander Thomas Pannone was suspended 80 games without pay for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the Office of the Commisioner of Baseball announced Friday.
The organization's 26th-ranked prospect received the ban after testing positive for Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, a performance-enhancing substance.
Acquired from the Indians for reliever Joe Smith at last season's Trade Deadline, Pannone had steadily built his stock since being taken in the ninth round of the 2013 Draft. He went 9-3 with a career-high 2.36 ERA last season while setting personal bests with 149 strikeouts and 144 2/3 innings in 25 starts between the Class A Advanced Carolina League and Double-A Eastern League. The Rhode Island native was 1-2 with a 3.63 ERA, 29 punchouts and eight walks in 34 2/3 frames with Double-A New Hampshire following the trade.
The 23-year-old features a fastball, changeup and curveball. While none of them are considered plus offerings, all three rate 50 or above on MLB Pipeline's 20-80 scouting scale, with his 55-grade curveball standing out.
Pannone released a statement on Twitter disputing the test results and maintaining his innocence.
"I have worked too hard to get where I am today to jeopardize my reputation and my career by taking a performance-enhancing drug," he said. "I have the utmost respect for my family, my teammates, my organization and the fans to let my character be called into question.
"It is my hope that future athletes who unknowingly test positive for DHCMT will have a better chance to clear their names than I have had. I am fully aware that, regardless of my innocence, I will have to earn back the trust of some and I plan to make that a priority for the rest of my career."