Major League Baseball announced Thursday that Seattle Mariners first base prospect Ji-Man Choi has been suspended 50 games after testing positive for methandienone, a banned performance-enhancing substance. Choi denies taking the substance knowingly but will not contest the suspension.
According to the Tacoma News Tribune, Choi released a statement: "A banned substance was detected in my urine sample. I do not know what I could have taken that caused me to test positive. I have not and never would knowingly use anything illegal to enhance my performance. However, I also understand that without an explanation I must serve a suspension and I accept that. I look forward to putting this behind me and to returning to help the Mariners ballclub once my suspension has ended."
Choi was off to an excellent start for the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League, hitting .394/.500/.545 through 10 games, with seven walks and six strikeouts. The 22-year-old first baseman was signed by the Mariners out of South Korea in 2009.
ANALYSIS: Well this obviously isn't good short-term news for Mariners fans or any fantasy owners who invested in Choi. However, although scouts are not wild about his physical tools, he has always been a very effective hitter with an intriguing mix of sharp strike zone judgment and decent power. We won't see him for 50 games but he still has a chance to see big league action later this year if he continues to hit well on his return. I think he remains an interesting sleeper prospect even if his stock takes a short-term hit.