Cards' Roberts, four others suspended

All five prospects to miss 50 games for violating drug program

Cardinals prospect Griffin Roberts posted a 3.82 ERA with Wake Forest in 2018. (Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

By Chris Bumbaca / MiLB.com | December 14, 2018 9:56 PM

NEW YORK -- Five Minor League players were suspended Friday for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced. 

Cardinals No. 10 prospect Griffin Roberts, Red Sox right-hander Francisco Lopez-Soto, Yankees righty Alex Mauricio, Reds catcher Hunter Oliver and A's right-hander Dallas Woolfolk each received 50-game suspensions for their violations. 

Roberts, selected with the 43rd overall pick in June's Draft, made seven appearances, including two starts, in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League before pitching a perfect inning on Sept. 1 in his lone outing for Class A Advanced Palm Beach.

Although the Cardinals will see if he can develop as a starter, the 22-year-old right-hander has a 70-grade fastball he can pair with a four-seamer that can touch the upper-90s, making him a potential bullpen piece. This is Roberts' second violation since being drafted.

"I'd like to apologize to the St. Louis Cardinals organization and fans for violating MiLB's drug testing policy for cannabis," Roberts tweeted Friday night. "I've taken full responsibility for my lack of compliance and have accepted my 50-game suspension. My focus now is to get back on the field and compete."

Lopez-Soto, 21, made 16 relief appearances for Class A Short Season Lowell in 2018, allowing 13 earned runs over 17 2/3 innings for a 6.62 ERA. It also was the second violation for the 2016 25th-round Draft pick. 

Mauricio, 22, tossed 58 1/3 innings last season between Class A Short Season Staten Island and Class A Charleston. Over 11 starts, he posted a 3.86 ERA with 49 strikeouts and a 1.27 WHIP. The 2017 27th-round pick was named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week for Aug. 20-26 after tossing 6 1/3 scoreless frames against Greenville in his final start of the season. This also was Mauricio's second violation. 

2018 Minor League suspensions

The Reds took Oliver in the 21st round of June's Draft and the 21-year-old batted .256/.307/.440 with six home runs and 20 RBIs in 38 games for Rookie-level Greeneville in the Appalachian League. The backstop got off to a hot start, including a four-hit night with a homer and eight total bases on July 18 against Elizabethton, before cooling off. Oliver tested positive for Amphetamine, a stimulant that violates the drug program. 

Woolfolk went 2-1 with a 7.31 ERA in 11 appearances for the A's Rookie-level Arizona League squad. The right-hander converted both of his save opportunities and fanned 20 batters in 16 innings. The 13th-round pick from this year out of Ole Miss also tested positive for Amphetamine. 

Seventy-five Minor Leaguers have been suspended this year for violating the Major or Minor League drug programs. 

Chris Bumbaca is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @BOOMbaca. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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