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DENVER -- The Atlanta Braves received bad news prior to Tuesday's contest against the Colorado Rockies. Minor league outfielder Jordan Schafer failed a random drug test and was suspended for 50 games for violating Major League Baseball's policy on performance enhancing drugs (PED).
Schafer, 21, was suspended by the commissioner's office for use of Human Growth Hormone (HGH). This is Schafer's first offense and carries the minimum suspension of 50 games. Coming into the season, Schafer was rated the organization's top prospect by Baseball America for 2008 after hitting .312 with 49 doubles, 15 homers, 63 RBI and 23 stolen bases combined between Low-A Rome and High-A Myrtle Beach last year.
"We are extremely disappointed that Jordan has violated the Commissioner's Performance Enhancing Drug Policy," said Braves Executive Vice President and General Manager Frank Wren in a statement issued by the team. "We are supportive of the program and will continue to educate all of our players. Earlier today Jordan asked to speak to his teammates to apologize for the mistakes he has made and for letting the organization and his team down. During his suspension, we will continue to support and counsel Jordan."
Schafer was the talk of the spring early and hit .316 (12-for-38) in 17 games with four doubles and six RBIs before being re-assigned to minor league camp. His great offensive numbers, coupled with a strong arm and above average range in center projected Schafer to be Braves center fielder of the future, perhaps reaching the Majors as a September call-up. In just four games on the season with Mississippi this year, Schafer was 1-for-11.
When the owners and players reached an initial agreement for testing in 2002, it did not carry a suspension for first time offenders. In January of 2005, a suspension for an initial positive test was set at 50 games. A second violation carries a 100 game suspension, while a third would constitute a lifetime ban from the game.
Minor leaguers James Jurries and Tyler Flowers are the only other Braves to have been suspended while with the organization under MLB's testing program.
Grant McAuley covers baseball for the Atlanta Braves Radio Network. For more, click here.