Cubs Prospects Absent

According to Major League Baseball, a total of 18 minor league players have been suspended for violating Major League Baseball's Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program this year. Those 18 players, 17 of which have been suspended since the start of minor league play in early April alone, hail from 15 different major league organizations.

The list does not include major league players that have been suspended in 2007, such as Detroit infielder and former Cub Neifi Perez.

The organizations with the most players suspended this season are the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies.

Those clubs have each had two players suspended as the result of banned substances this season, and the Mets are the only club to have a repeat offender among the group, which results in a 100-game suspension.

In fact, since 2006, the Mets have had the most players of any club suspended with five players testing positive for banned substances.

Furthermore, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Houston Astros, Kansas City Royals, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins, Oakland Athletics, San Francisco Giants, Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Texas Rangers make up the remaining 12 clubs that have had minor league players suspended for banned substances in 2007.

One organization whose minor league players have been absent from this list is the Chicago Cubs. Since 2005, when seven Cubs minor leaguers were suspended for testing positive for a banned substance, the organization has had no known players suspended for violating substance-abuse policy.

Cubs Director of Player Development Oneri Fleita believes it is no coincidence that his players have not been hit with a suspension in over two years now.

"This isn't something where we just get a memo and we talk about it one time," Fleita said. "We've really gone the extra mile to educate the players. We send people out two and three times a year as a constant reminder to always let the players know (what's out there)."

The Cubs' various scouts and medical staff, such as Team Physician Dr. Stephen Adams and Minor League Athletic Training Coordinator Justin Sharpe, play an important role in that education, Fleita said.

"Up to this point, they've done a great job to get us players that not only have talent, but have a lot of integrity and character," Fleita said.

It also helps that each clubhouse from A to Z has mandatory posters thumb-tacked to every bulletin board as soon as players make their way to their respective lockers, reminding them of the stiff penalties for testing positive.

Still, those players can slip up from time to time.

Even if a player does not knowingly inject an illegal substance, something as simple as a trip to a nearby GNC store (located in every mall in every city where Cubs prospects are stationed across the country) can result in that player testing positive for a banned substance.

"In some cases, some of these players not knowingly can go out and buy something over the counter," Fleita noted.

Major League Baseball, with the help of the Players Association in 2005, boosted random testing for banned substances. Since then, a first-time offense now results in a 50-game suspension, with 100 games for a second offense, and a lifetime ban for a third offense.

As a result, Fleita believes the industry has gotten stronger.

"I think it's a lot more positive than it ever has been, and it's only going to get better," Fleita said. "I'd like to think baseball as an industry has done a nice job not only to educate, but to continue (educating). I think as an industry, everybody is doing their job. It's a shame that there's always somebody out there that thinks they're going to try to buck the system or cheat the system. Those are the ones that are getting caught."

Also according to Major League Baseball, nearly 50 players from the minor leagues have been suspended for illegal substances since 2006.

The breakdown of that list includes:

Five players from the Mets; four from the Dodgers, Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates; three from the Phillies, San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals; two from the Braves, Devil Rays, Diamondbacks, Giants, Royals, Twins and Toronto Blue Jays; and one from the A's, Rangers, Rockies, Seattle Mariners, White Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, and Detroit Tigers.

No players from the Cubs farm system have been suspended for illegal substances in that span.

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