The Mariners announced Tuesday that outfielder Jamal Strong had been suspended for violating the steroid policy. The Triple-A speedster began serving his 10-day suspension Tuesday night.
Like Alex Sanchez, Strong isn't the prototypical hulking steroid guy: he's a speedy slap hitter, and using steroids has not increased his power production in any notable way. Speculating here, but this looks like a case of a player using this stuff to try and improve healing. Strong has been plagued with injuries for the last two years, including a severe shoulder dislocation and a bone bruise in his right knee. According to Baseball America's Prospect Handbook, Strong "spent the winter at the Mariners' Arizona complex trying to strengthen the muscles around the knee."
Shortstop Brandon Wood is on a power tear at Class A Rancho Cucamonga, hitting .300/.349/.638 with 8 homers already. A first-round pick in '03 out of high school in Arizona, Wood was a tad disappointing last year in the Midwest League, with mediocre strike zone judgment hurting his production at times. His BB/K/AB is still not ideal (6/18 in 80 AB), but it's hard to argue with his results so far. Wood drew some Derek Jeter comparisons in high school, and while he hasn't had that kind of hype as a pro, he's still just 20 years old and has plenty of development ahead of him.
When top RHP prospects are discussed, Hayden Penn isn't often mentioned. That is changing now. A fifth-round pick out of a California high school in '02, Penn pitched very well last year, but his status in the public prospect mind was hurt by the fact that he split the year at three levels, thus breaking up his stat line. That sounds silly, but sometimes sleepers fly under the radar because they move from team to team and don't post aesthetically-noticable statistics. Penn posted a solid 122/48 K/BB ratio in 137 innings last year, but he split that up between three levels, so it doesn't attract as much notice. Penn is in Double-A this year, and has a 1.64 ERA with 30/5 K/BB in 22 innings, allowing just 14 hits. He's improving his curveball and changeup to go with his low-90s fastball, and at age 20 is young for the level.
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