The odyssey of Billy Rowell took another strange turn Monday when Major League Baseball announced that the Orioles' first-round pick in 2006 has been suspended for 50 games for his second violation of the minor league’s drug testing and prevention program.
Rowell, 23, tested positive for a “drug of abuse,” MLB stated in a news release Monday. The specific drug is not revealed. He had been in Sarasota attempting to become a pitcher after six seasons as an infielder/outfielder in which he batted a collective .261 and never played above Double-A Bowie.
Rowell becomes the third player in the Orioles’ organization to be suspended this year for a drug of abuse. The other two were catchers Brian Ward, a former undrafted free agent, and Michael Ohlman, an 11th rounder in 2009.
Rowell, however, is a much higher profile player. He was taken with the ninth pick overall out of a New Jersey high school in 2006 for $2.1 million. He was selected one spot ahead of multiple National League Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum in that draft.
During his afternoon news conference, Orioles manager Buck Showalter was asked about the news and the trio of Orioles minor league players suspended this year.
“I’m sure any time those things happen – I am not going to get into comparing it to society – if there is one (player) it’s a concern. But unfortunately it’s part of the world we live in and we try to keep it from happening,” Showalter said. “I don’t really care to how it compares to other organizations or society in general, numbers, ratio – I don’t. I just don’t want it happening with the Orioles. But I have children and I understand the challenges that are out there. I’m not condoning anything. We’ll see.”