Welington Castillo is first active Cubs or White Sox player suspended for PEDs

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Welington Castillo (left) with Sox manager Rick Renteria. | Charles Rex Arbogast/AP Photo

MLB’s ongoing tangle with performance-enhancing drugs finally hit the roster of a Chicago baseball team Thursday with the 80-game suspension of Welington Castillo. The White Sox catcher tested positive for aErythropoietin, a banned substance, becoming the first active big-league player from the Sox or Cubs to be punished for PEDs under the current system.

It’s a little amazing that both teams had managed to skirt a PED suspension since MLB first implemented its drug policy in 2005. According to the Baseball-Almanac, the White Sox are the 27th team to have a big-league player suspended. The Cubs are one of three remaining holdouts with the Red Sox and Angels.

Every other team has had at least one player off its MLB roster suspended. Some franchises have had several.

For example, when Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano got an 80-game ban earlier this spring, he became that franchise’s sixth player to be suspended for PEDs, joining Jamal Strong (2005), Ryan Franklin (2005), Mike Morse (2005), Jesus Montero (2013) and David Rollins (2015). The Mets have also had a number of culprits, including Jennry Mejia, the only player ever to receive a lifetime ban.

Big-league players from the Cubs and White Sox, on the other hand, had managed to go unscathed. Until Thursday, that is. That was unusual in baseball.

MLB PED suspensions since 2005, by team

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Above is a look at the number of PED suspensions given to each MLB team for players on 40-man rosters, according to Baseball-Almanac.

It’s important to note this does not include punishments for “drugs of abuse,” such as cocaine, only those designed to improve performance. This also counts players who drew multiple suspensions multiple times, so Mejia counts for three suspensions for the Mets, for example. That’s as many or more suspensions than 23 respective franchises have recorded.

In total, there have been 74 big-league suspensions triggered by positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs in the last 13 years. Over 40 percent of them have involved seven teams: the Mets, Mariners, Phillies, Yankees, Rays, Padres and Royals.

Before Thursday, the Cubs and White Sox accounted for zero of those suspensions. However, that’s only if we focus on the majors.

But what about the minor leagues?

Minor League Baseball suspends far more players than MLB, especially at lower levels where many prospects have little to lose by pushing the rules. Nobody from the White Sox or Cubs’ big-league rosters had been suspended for PEDs until Castillo, but there’s a long list of prospects to be busted, even if you go back just a few years.

There’s no comprehensive list available of every suspension handed out by Minor League Baseball dating back 13 years, but here is everyone from the Cubs or Sox organization suspended by MiLB since 2012, sorted by organization, then chronologically. You can see suspensions for all organizations in 2018 here.

CUBS

RHP Ricard Esteves

Date: April 10, 2012

Team: n/a

Substance: Stanozolol, Nandrolone

Suspension length: n/a

RHP Juancito De La Cruz

Date: July 18, 2012

Team: DSL Cubs

Substance: Stanozolol

Suspension length: 50 games

RHP Antonio Encarnacion

Date: July 18, 2012

Team: DSL Cubs

Substance: Stanozolol

Suspension length: 50 games

LHP Andin Diaz

Date: Aug. 8, 2012

Team: DSL Cubs

Substance: Stanozolol

Suspension length: 50 games

RHP Pedro Silverio

Date: April 10, 2013

Team: DSL Cubs

Substance: Stanozolol

Suspension length: 50 games

RHP Assael Aquino

Date: June 18, 2015

Team: DSL Cubs

Substance: Stanozolol

Suspension length: 72 games

RHP Luiz Escanio

Date: June 18, 2015

Team: DSL Cubs

Substance: Stanozolol

Suspension length: 72 games

RHP Tanner Griggs

Date: Nov. 25, 2015

Team: AZL Cubs

Substance: Amphetamine

Suspension length: 50 games

RHP Luiz Escanio

Date: Aug. 10, 2016

Team: DSL Cubs 2

Substance: Boldenone

Suspension length: 144 games

RHP Anyel Beato

Date: Sept. 22, 2017

Team: DSL Cubs 2

Substance: Stanozolol

Suspension length: 72 games

RHP Wilfre Delgado

Date: Jan. 12, 2018

Team: DSL Cubs

Substance: Stanozolol

Suspension length: 72 games

WHITE SOX

RHP Andre Rienzo

Date: April 26, 2012

Team: Advanced Class A Winston-Salem

Substance: Stanozolol

Suspension length: 50 games

2B Carlos Gonzalez

Date: Aug. 24, 2012

Team: DSL White Sox

Substance: Stanozolol

Suspension length: 50 games

RHP Pedro Rodriguez

Date: Aug. 23, 2013

Team: DSL White Sox

Substance: Stanozolol

Suspension length: 50 games

C Nick Parent

Date: Aug. 29, 2013

Team: Rookie Sox (Bristol)

Substance: Stanozolol

Suspension length: 50 games

RHP Nick Blount

Date: Nov. 1, 2013

Team:Class A Advanced Winston-Salem

Substance: Amphetamine

Suspension length: 50 games

OF Adam Heisler

Date: June 25, 2014

Team: Class A Advanced Winston-Salem

Substance: Amphetamine

Suspension length: 50 games

RHP Kameron Loe

Date: March 29, 2016

Team: Class AAA Charlotte

Substance: Testosterone, Methasterone

Suspension length: 80 games

RHP Joselo Pinales

Date: July 20, 2016

Team: DSL White Sox

Substance: Stanozolol

Suspension length: 72 games

1B Telvin Nash

Date: Aug. 19, 2016

Team: Class AA Winston-Salem

Substance: Amphetamine

Suspension length: 50 games

LHP Yogensy Arias

Date: Sept. 22, 2016

Team: DSL White Sox

Substance: Hydrochlorothiazide

Suspension length: 72 games

That’s 11 suspensions for Cubs prospects and 10 suspensions for White Sox prospects.

However, Castillo goes into history as the first MLB player from either team to earn the league’s wrath for PEDs. We’ll have to see whom among the Cubs, Angels and Red Sox holds out the longest without a suspension.

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