Major League Baseball suspended Class AAA Syracuse reliever and George Washington alum Josh Wilkie for 50 games for violating its drug policy, a person with knowledge of the situation said.
Class AA Harrisburg reliever Rafael Martin and Syracuse infielder Josh Johnson also violated the policy as first-time offenders for a drug of abuse – not a performance-enhancer – and will enter into MLB’s drug treatment program, the person said.
The Nationals placed both Wilkie and Johnson on Syracuse’s restricted list. The failed tests will surely draw the ire of Nationals officials, particularly General Manager Mike Rizzo and director of player development Doug Harris, who expressed a strict, no-tolerance policy during spring training.
The Nationals are expected to comment on the violations after MLB officially announces them.
Wilkie told MASNSports.com he tested positive for a banned flavored spice in tobacco. Wilkie, 27, has been in the Nationals organization since he signed as an undrafted free agent in 2006. He has compiling a 3.03 ERA over seven seasons as a finesse reliever. His local connections and strong minor league stats made him something close to a cult favorite among some Nationals fans.
Martin spent four years out of organized baseball after high school, working a construction job and playing in a men’s league on weekends. Martin attended a tryout for a team in the Mexican League on a whim, and to his surprise, he made it.
Martin signed with the Nationals in February 2010 after they spent roughly $400,000 to acquire Martin from the Mexican League. They liked his velocity and his darting fastball, but he has not met their expectations. This year, Martin posted a 7.13 ERA in 17 2/3 innings at Class AAA before the Nationals demoted him this week to Class AA Harrisburg.
The Nationals acquired Johnson, currently in his ninth major league season, in 2009. Johnson, 26, began the year with a fast start at Class AA Harrisburg and earned a promotion to Syracuse in April. He has hit .233/.333/.248 in 40 Class AAA games.
This winter, Syracuse reliever Zech Zincola tested positive for synthetic marijuana and was suspended for the first 50 games of the season.