Major League Baseball announced today that Cubs minor league pitcher P.J. Francescon has been suspended 50 games for testing positive a second time for a "drug of abuse." Indians pitcher Joseph Colon was also suspended the same 50 games.
Francescon, a 40th round pick in 2011 out of Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, pitched for the Double-A Tennessee Smokies in parts of the past three seasons. He was a Southern League All-Star the past two years and his strong 2015 performance for the Smokies (4-2 with a 1.69 ERA and 22 saves) earned him a late-season promotion to Triple-A Iowa, where he tossed eight scoreless innings in three appearances. The 27-year-old right-handed reliever had raised his stock to the point where he had been mentioned as a possible future major league reliever. That may still be true, but those hopes are going to have to go on hold for a while.
When MLB says that Francescon has tested positive for a "drug of abuse," they mean that he tested positive for marijuana, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy, heroin or other opiate. As you can probably guess, the vast majority of these suspensions are for marijuana, although sometimes opiate painkillers come into play as well. The exact substance is generally not revealed unless the player himself reveals it, which Francescon has not. A player who tests positive for the first time is issued a warning. A suspension only comes after a second positive test.
Because Francescon was not on the 40-man roster, he is not covered by the collective bargaining agreement and does not have the right to appeal his suspension. He will start serving it at the beginning of the season.