Giants No. 4 prospect Adalberto Mejia and free agent righty Luis Morel were suspended Friday after both tested positive for banned substances.
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball said Mejia received a 50-game suspension without pay after testing positive for sibutramine, a stimulant, while Morel earned a 72-game ban without pay after testing positive for a metabolite of Stanozolol, also a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
The suspension of Mejia will be effective at the start of the 2015 season, and Morel will start serving his penalty once he signs with a new organization.
Mejia, 21, was ranked No. 19 among Giants prospects by MLB.com entering the 2014 but shot up the list after going 7-9 with a 4.67 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 108 innings this past year with Double-A Richmond. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound southpaw signed with San Francisco as a free agent in February 2011 and made his Class A debut a year later with Augusta, when he went 10-7 with a 3.97 ERA. He briefly made his Triple-A debut in 2013 with Fresno while spending most of the year with Class A Advanced San Jose.
Sibutramine was marketed and prescribed, most commonly by the brand name Meridia, as a weight loss drug to aid treatment of obesity along with diet and exercise up until 2010, when it was linked to heart attacks and stroke. It was withdrawn from the market in most countries, including the U.S., Canada, the U.K., China and India, in October 2010. The drug is classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance in America. In 2011, the FDA warned that at least 20 brands of "natural" diet pills contained sibutramine, according to NBC News.
The FDA warned, "the product poses a threat to consumers because sibutramine is known to substantially increase blood pressure and/or pulse rate in some patients and may present a significant risk for patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, or stroke. This product may also interact in life-threatening ways with other medications a consumer may be taking."
Morel, 21, signed with the Orioles prior to the 2011 season out of the Dominican Republic and is 2-2 with a 6.25 ERA in 17 career starts over three seasons with Baltimore's Dominican Summer League club. He's struck out 20 in 36 innings.
Under the rules of the new Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for Rookie and Short-Season leagues, a first violation receives a discipline of 80 games or the total number of regular-season games in the league, whichever is shorter. The DSL plays a 72-game schedule, so the suspension of Morel is for 72 games.
Stanozolol is a synthetic anabolic steroid derived from testosterone that is sometimes prescribed by veterinarians to encourage muscle growth, red blood cell production, bone density and to stimulate the appetite of weakened animals.
The Commissioner's Office has suspended 56 players this year for violating the Minor League drug program.