Jonathan Singleton, the Houston Astros top prospect and the top first base prospect in the minors, has been suspended for the first 50 games of the 2013 season for failing a second test for marijuana, reports Andrew Pentis of MiLB.com.
From a prospect standpoint, this won't have much effect on Singleton's development. He just turned 21 and is coming off a great season, and once he's done his suspension, he'll be heading to Triple-A and should still be in the majors by 2014. He's still a great hitter and should be the centerpiece of the Astros next competitive team.
But now there are some serious questions about his character and judgement.
Minor league players know they get tested for recreational drug use. Unlike players on the 40-man roster, who, believe it or not, are allowed to smoke as much weed as they want, minor league players are subject to a much stricter drug program. Singleton knew he was getting tested for marijuana, but he smoked it anyway. That's a pretty bad decision.
But worse than that, it takes more than just one mistake to get a 50-game suspension. According to the minor league drug program, it takes two failed tests to get the suspension. That means Singleton failed a test for smoking weed, was notified about it, yet still smoked more weed, knowing that he was still getting tested. That's a really bad decision.
Now there are some serious issues with the way major and minor league baseball have their drug programs set up. The fact that the minors test for marijuana but the majors does not is hypocritical at best and a testament to the MLB players union at worst.
But regardless of the hypocrisy of the rules, the are not a secret. Singleton knows that the rules are and ignored them. Despite his talent, this suspension brings into question his ability to be a leader on a successful ball club, which is not a good sign for the future of the Astros.