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St. Louis Cardinals Pitching Prospect Popped for PEDs

Jan 28, 2024Jan 28, 2024

Today, Major League Baseball announced a couple suspensions for performance enhancing drugs, and one of the two is a notable St. Louis Cardinals prospect.

Two minor leaguers have been suspended following their violations of MLB's Joint Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program:

Leonardo Taveras, 24, recently ranked as the 18th prospect in the Cardinals’ system at FanGraphs, and it sounds like things were finally coming together for him this year in relief at High-A (where he was striking out 45.2% of the batters he faced):

Have things actually clicked for Taveras or are we seeing a lightning in a bottle beginning to his 2023? The statuesque righty has long been a tantalizing because of his build, arm strength, and breaking ball quality, but he's also had some seasons where he's walked more than a batter per inning, far too wild to make the main section of the list. So far in 2023, he's comfortably leading the entire St. Louis org in swinging strike rate at nearly 20% as he's found enough mechanical consistency to rip upper-90s fastballs and monster two-plane sliders past High-A hitters.

Taveras is built like a young Justin Verlander and has a similar arm slot. His fastball is deadly at the letters and much more vulnerable low in the zone because of how much downhill plane it has when it's located there. The notion that Taveras will eventually have consistent feel for locating his fastball enough for it to dominate feels foolish; he's 24 and has had coherent control for basically one month of his entire pro career. But if we’re lining up who looked best in the window during which we worked on this list, Taveras would at least be in the 40+ FV tier. He has late-inning stuff and there's a small chance he's put things together.

You have to wonder, given the timing of him finally putting it together and the PED positive test, whether there's some kind of relationship there.

In any case, having to now miss the next 80 games is going to put a serious dent in his ability to quickly climb the ladder (which is what you’d need to see for a 24-year-old relief-only prospect in High-A ball).

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.