Rays’ Houser Suspended

Devil Rays lefthander James Houser has been suspended for 50 games for testing positive for a performance enhancing substance.

Houser is one of the highest profile prospects to be nabbed by the minor league drug testing program. The Devil Rays’ 2003 second-round pick out of a Sarasota, Fla., high school, Houser ranked as Tampa Bay’s No. 21 prospect heading into the season after a solid 2006 season in Visalia. He ranked as high as seventh in the system as well, prior to the 2005 season. This year he was 5-4, 3.65 in 20 starts with Double-A Montgomery at the time of the suspension.

Because the suspension was instated with less than 50 games to go in the season Houser will miss the start of the 2008 season as well.

He’s the second Rays player suspended this year, following an earlier suspension of righthander Juan Salas.