Astros right-hander Francis Martes has been suspended 80 games after testing positive for the banned substance Clomiphene, the league announced Tuesday.
The 23-year-old Martes already going to be sidelined as he recovered from Tommy John surgery last August, but he’ll be docked 80 games’ pay and now be ineligible to pitch in the postseason even if he’s able to work back up to full strength. Beyond that, any possibility of him acquiring service time on the Major League 60-day injured list has now been wiped out, as he’ll come off Houston’s 40-man roster while he is on the restricted list as part of this suspension.
Martes was considered one of baseball’s premier pitching prospects prior to the 2017 season, landing inside the top 40 on the pre-2017 rankings from Baseball America, MLB.com, ESPN and Baseball Prospectus. His stock has dropped since that time, however, as Martes pitched to an ERA well north of 5.00 in both Triple-A and the Majors in ’17 before logging a 6.75 ERA in four Triple-A starts last season. The arm injury that ultimately necessitated his Tommy John procedure limited Martes to just 19 2/3 innings in 2018.
By the time he recovers from surgery, Martes will be approaching his 24th birthday and will be more than two years removed from being considered a premium prospect. There’s certainly still a possibility that he emerges as a quality big league asset down the line, but there’s also a chance that he enters the 2020 season having pitched just 106 1/3 innings over the preceding three years, which won’t do his development any favors.