Promising Tacoma Rainiers outfielder Boog Powell has been suspended 80 games without pay for use of a banned performance-enhancing substance, effective immediately.
Powell — a 23-year-old left-handed hitter from Irvine, California — was hitting .270 with a .326 on-base percentage in 64 games with the Rainiers.
It came as shock to him, he said in a statement released Thursday by the Major League Baseball Players Association.
“While I realize this has become a common refrain among athletes faced with such discipline, the truth is I don’t know how this substance could possibly have been in my system,” Powell said.
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This isn’t the first time he’s been suspended for failing a drug test.
Powell missed 50 games in 2014 while in the Oakland Athletics’ organization after testing positive for an amphetamine.
To fill Powell’s spot on the Rainiers, Guillermo Heredia, a 25-year-old Cuban center fielder the Mariners signed in February, was promoted from Double-A Jackson.
Powell, whose actual name is Herschel Mack Powell IV, came to the Seattle Mariners organization in an offseason trade from the Tampa Bay Rays. The deal also brought pitchers Nathan Karns and C.J. Riefenhauser, and it sent Logan Morrison, Brad Miller and Danny Farquhar to Tampa Bay.
Powell was a dependable leadoff hitter for the Rainiers — hitting .310 with a .386 on-base percentage though the first month of the Triple-A season.
Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto raved in the offseason about the 5-foot-10, 185-pound prospect’s top-of-the-lineup skill set.
“The patience, the hittability and the speed are really attractive to us, as well as the athleticism in the outfield,” Dipoto said.
“He’s checked all of the boxes. He controls the strike zone. He’s hit everywhere he’s gone. He runs the bases. He plays defense. And he’s polished in what he does.”
Powell promised he’d vindicate himself of wrongdoing in his statement and apologized to his family, friends and “the Seattle Mariners organization and its fans for this situation.”
“I have already taken proactive steps to look into this situation and will not rest until there is a full explanation for this result which will vindicate me,” Powell said. “Until that happens, however, I realize that accountability rests solely with me on this matter. I am responsible for everything I put in my body and part of that responsibility means dealing with the consequences, regardless of the explanation.
“I will work to rebuild trust with each of you through my words and actions moving forward. I promise you, I will find a solution to all of this.”
Staff writer Bob Dutton contributed to this report
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