Frederick Keys center fielder B.J. Littleton was suspended by Major League Baseball for 15 games for testing positive for a banned substance. The suspension took effect on Tuesday.
Littleton would not say what the substance was, only to say he took a GNC product for "muscle recovery after workouts" and that the banned stimulant was not listed on the label.
Littleton said he was informed of the positive test results and suspension in a telephone call from Baltimore Orioles farm director Doc Rodgers. Major League Baseball conducts random drug tests on all minor league players.
Littleton, the Orioles' seventh round selection in 2000, was hitting .288 with one home run and 16 RBI in 64 games. He also had a team-high 13 stolen bases. In two weeks prior to the suspension, Littleton had been mired in a slump, with just four hits in his last 33 at-bats and one RBI.
Keys Note: Many a player at the Class A level will dream of the major league experience only to fall short of reaching it. But infielder Jose Morban has been there, which makes his present address with the Frederick Keys a disappointment.
Morban, 24, was claimed by the Orioles off waivers from the Minnesota Twins in March 2003 as a Rule 5 pick. He remained on Baltimore's roster for the entire 2003 season, appearing in 61 games, pinch-hitting and playing second, shortstop and third. His first big league hit was a home run. He stole eight bases in eight attempts.
But Morban's .171 average and one strikeout per every 3.5 at-bats didn't earn him a roster spot in 2004. He began this season in Class AA Bowie. With the Baysox, he hit just .213 through 2 1/2 months and was sent down to Frederick on June 23. With the Keys, the strikeouts have continued. He has fanned times 11 times in 32 at-bats.
"They sent me down here to shorten my swing," said Morban. "and I'm working on that." When asked if it was mentally taxing to be three levels below the major leagues, he replied, "Sometimes yes, sometimes no."