Right-handed pitcher Oscar De La Cruz, the Cubs’ sixth-best prospect coming into the season according to Baseball America, has been suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball for testing positive for Furosemide, which can be used as a masking agent for other drugs.
League announces that Cubs pitching prospect Oscar De La Cruz suspended 80 games for testing positive for Furosemide, a diuretic and masking agent.— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) July 6, 2018
De La Cruz has always shown a lot of talent in his six seasons in the Cubs system. He has not been able to stay healthy for an extended period of time in recent years however, although he’s never had any major arm or shoulder surgery. This season he was healthy for the first time since 2015, having already logged a career-high 77.1 innings in 16 starts with Double-A Tennessee. However, he was having the worst season of his career, posting a 5.24 ERA. Much of that was due to the 14 home runs he’s allowed this year. His walk numbers were also up slightly this year, but his strikeout totals were as well, tying a career-high 73 that he set in Eugene in 2015. But his final start with the Smokies was a good one. He allowed just one run on four hits over five innings while picking up the win on Thursday.
With this suspension, De La Cruz will miss the rest of 2018 and, if I figure this correctly. the first 25 games of next season.
The Cubs made the following statement on De La Cruz’s suspension.
We are disappointed to learn today that Oscar De La Cruz has violated Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The Cubs fully support the Program and its efforts to remove performance enhancing drugs from the game. We also expect Oscar to learn from this experience and will support him on his journey back. Per Program protocol, the Cubs will not comment further on this matter.
I’m not going to pretend this is anything but a bad development, but the Cubs are correct in that De La Cruz has the opportunity to learn from this mistake. He probably would not have made more than four or five starts the rest of the year and with his health history, this break will give his body a rest. He can also spend the time working on whatever wasn’t working this year and come back strong in 2019. He still has an electric arm and if he plays by the rules going forward, can still be a part of the Cubs future.