NEW YORK -- Cardinals top prospect Alex Reyes was suspended for 50 games on Monday after testing positive for marijuana.
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball indicated that Reyes, a right-hander currently in the Arizona Fall League, received a 50-game suspension without pay after a second positive test for a drug of abuse in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
In a statement released on Monday, Reyes said he "tested positive for marijuana during a routine drug test" earlier this week.
The 21-year-old, who was pitching for the Surprise Saguaros this month, will begin serving the ban immediately, starting in the AFL and then serving the remainder of the punishment once the 2016 Minor League season begins.
Reyes was 5-7 with a 2.49 ERA and 151 strikeouts in 101 1/3 innings in 2015 for Class A Advanced Palm Beach and Double-A Springfield, earning trips to the Florida State League All-Star Game and the Futures Game. He was voted a Rising Star in the AFL last week and was honored by Baseball America this summer as an All-Star.
"I take full responsibility for my actions and apologize for disappointing my family, fans, teammates and the St. Louis Cardinals organization," Reyes said in the statement. "I acknowledge my inappropriate behavior and will accept the consequences. Baseball is my passion and I will do everything in my power to put this behind me and move forward."
Reyes signed with the Cardinals in 2012 for $950,000 as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic and has quickly risen to the top of the organization's talent rankings. He went 7-7 with a 3.62 ERA and 137 strikeouts in 109 1/3 innings in 2014 at Class A Peoria before ascending two levels this summer. In the Arizona Fall League this year, Reyes was 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 15 innings across four starts. He last pitched Nov. 2 when he allowed five runs in 3 1/3 frames against Scottsdale.
Players are typically issued a warning following a first positive test for a drug of abuse and a suspension for a second offense. Substances considered "drugs of abuse" by Major League Baseball include cocaine, marijuana, heroin, LSD, ecstasy and other opiates.
The suspension comes less than a week after MLB handed Tigers No. 10 prospect JaCoby Jones a 50-game ban after he also tested positive for a drug of abuse while playing in the Arizona Fall League.
Major League Baseball has issued 96 suspensions to 94 players this year for violations of the Minor League drug program.