Rangers' No. 13 prospect Travis Demeritte, who led all Class A batters in home runs last season, was suspended for 80 games Thursday after testing positive for a banned substance.
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball said the 20-year-old second baseman with Class A Hickory received an 80-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Furosemide, labeled by MLB as a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
The suspension is effective immediately.
"The Texas Rangers are disappointed that Travis Demeritte has violated the terms of Minor League Baseball's Drug Prevention and Treatment Program resulting in his suspension," the Rangers said in a statement, according to the Dallas Morning News. "The Rangers' organization fully supports the MiLB program and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing substances from our game."
Demeritte was one of the Rangers' two first-round picks in the 2013 Draft and was hitting .241 with five homers, 19 RBIs, 10 stolen bases and a .343 on-base percentage in 170 at-bats over 48 games this season in the South Atlantic League. The Georgia native, who has struck out 69 times this year, last played in the Crawdads' doubleheader June 3 at Hagerstown.
"I want to apologize to the Texas Rangers organization, including my teammates, as well as my family, friends, and the fans for my error in judgment," Demeritte said, according to the Dallas Morning News. "I accept full responsibility for my actions and will be working hard over the next few months to be fully prepared for a return as an active player."
Demeritte will be eligible to return on Aug. 31 when Hickory visits Delmarva, potentially leaving him with eight regular-season games this year when the season ends Sept. 7.
The right-handed-hitting infielder debuted in 2013 and spent all of last season with Hickory, where he batted .211 with 25 homers, 66 RBIs and a .310 OBP in 118 games and won the MiLB Joe Bauman Home Run Award after leading all Class A hitters in long balls.
Furosemide, often sold by the name brand Lasix, helps prevent the body from absorbing too much salt and has been used as an anti-bleeding medication for horses. It's listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency's list of prohibited drugs since it's believed to have been used to mask other illegal substances. Also sometimes used in horse racing, the Breeders' Cup prohibited the substance as well in 2012.
Demeritte is the 53rd player suspended this year for violating the Minor League drug program.