Billy Rowell's time with the Orioles may have effectively reached its end following Major League Baseball's announcement today that the 23-year-old has earned a 50-game suspension for twice testing positive for a so-called drug of abuse. According to an MLB press release, Rowell's suspension begins on June 18, the start date for the short-season New York-Penn League season.
The length of the suspension all but rules out Rowell's participation with Aberdeen this summer, and he qualifies for minor league free agency in November. A return engagement in Baltimore seems unlikely at this time.
The first high school position player drafted in 2006, Rowell failed to live up to his potential as a power-hitting third baseman, so the new Orioles front office this spring converted him to the mound—specifically righthanded reliever. Held back in extended spring training, he has not yet pitched in a professional game.
Rowell batted .250/.316/.371 in 1,363 plate appearances for high Class A Frederick during three summers in the Carolina League from 2008 through ’10. He topped out with Double-A Bowie for 41 games last season, putting up a .547 OPS in 136 PA.
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