Top International Prospect Tests Positive For Steroids

One of several top Dominican players who reportedly have failed MLB tests





Major League Baseball's increased scrutiny of players in the Dominican Republic is already affecting the international market, as at least one of the top prospects in Latin America has tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Dominican outfielder Edwin Moreno—one of the top 16-year-old prospects eligible to sign when the international signing period begins on Friday—has tested positive for the anabolic steroid stanozolol, according to several sources in the Dominican Republic, including his own trainer.

Moreno's trainer, Victor Baez, confirmed that Moreno and three of his other players—power-hitting third baseman Hector Veloz from Santiago, lefthander Emmanuel DeJesus from San Francisco de Macoris and lefthander Eduardo Ramos from Mao—all tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

Baez said that all of the players tested positive for stanozolol, an anabolic steroid commonly sold under the name Winstrol, but he said their use was unintentional because the drug came from an over-the-counter supplement that did not list it as one of the ingredients.

"What they're doing with this kid is really, really unfair," Baez said. "This kid has worked since he was 13 with me to do what he does. They investigated the age and it was 100 percent accurate.

"I have signed 46 players officially. For the record, MLB has never found one fake age or one fake doping test. How can you say that, for my most expensive kid, that I would have him dirty in the doping test? I would be either very stupid or very naive."

MLB required 40 of the top Dominican prospects from this year's international signing class to register with the league last month, a process that included consenting to a drug test and to investigations into their ages and identities.

Baez said he recently met with the parents of about 20 players who reportedly tested positive for anabolic steroids, which is consistent with the word going around Dominican baseball circles: that nearly half of the 40 players who registered tested positive.

Sandy Alderson, MLB's consultant in charge of reforming the league's Dominican operations, declined to comment on either the investigations or the results of the drug tests, noting that the investigations are not yet complete and that the results of the drug tests are confidential. The result of a drug test is made available only to the player and his parents or guardians, as well as to general managers and assistant general managers upon request to MLB.

Baez, who is based in Miami, said he has never injected his players with anything and suggested that the positive test resulted from their use of a protein supplement that he purchased from General Nutrition Centers. Baez also said he and the parents of the other players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs are considering a lawsuit against MLB. Baez said he was also unhappy that MLB would not disclose to him the amount of stanozolol detected in any of his players' tests.

While a player who has signed a contract is subject to 50-game suspension for a positive drug test, any player who tests positive under MLB's registration program would not be suspended, according to multiple industry sources. Upon signing, those players will have to take another drug test, and a positive test in that case would result in a 50-game suspension.

Moreno was believed to be in line for a seven-figure bonus, with multiple sources pointing to the Mets as a possible destination. The lefthanded Moreno, who is from Santiago, stands out both at the plate and in the field with a wide range of skills. Listed at 6-foot-1, 183 pounds, Moreno has a good approach to hitting, with feel for making contact. His ability to drive the ball when he gets a good pitch to hit has come around in recent months, and he stood out at a workout at the Reds' complex within the past week, hitting two home runs against live pitching.

Some scouts say Moreno might be an inch or two shorter than his listed height, and his stocky frame is a concern for some scouts. He is plus runner and has a good arm, though he will be a corner outfielder as a pro, most likely a right fielder.