NEW YORK -- The opening of the 2019 season is five months away, but for three right-handed pitching prospects, it's going to be even further away.
Athletics prospect Oscar Tovar was suspended 50 games after testing positive for the banned stimulant Phentermine, while Heriberto Sosa of the Padres and Christian Charle of the Pirates received 72-game bans following positive tests for Stanozolol, the Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced Friday.
Tovar was signed by the A's out of Venezuela in July 2014 and was coming off his fourth Minor League season and second with Class A Short Season Vermont. After alternating between a starting and relief role in his first three campaigns, the 20-year-old right-hander moved to the bullpen exclusively in 2018, posting a 2.03 ERA and 1.35 WHIP with 29 strikeouts over 26 2/3 innings. He did not allow an earned run in his final eight appearances, spanning 16 innings.
Both Sosa and Charle were coming off their first professional seasons in the Rookie-level Dominican Summer League. Sosa posted a 5.70 ERA, 1.52 WHIP and 26 strikeouts over 23 2/3 innings, while Charle had a 6.04 ERA with more walks (23) than strikeouts (20) in 28 1/3 frames.
2018 Minor League suspensions
Phentermine is used as an appetite suppressant with the purpose of helping people lose weight, but is banned under the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Stanozolol is a synthetic steroid that is considered a performance-enhancing drug.
Sixty-eight Minor Leaguers have been suspended this year for violating the Minor or Major League drug program.