Major League Baseball has suspended San Francisco Giants pitching prospect Logan Webb for 80 games due to a violation of the league’s Drug Prevention and Treatment program, the club announced on Wednesday morning.
Webb, who had a 2.00 ERA in Double-A this season, with 31 strikeouts to seven walks in 27 innings, was one of San Francisco’s No. 5 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. He is the third top prospect the Giants have lost in recent days. Top prospect Joey Bart went down with a fractured left hand after being hit by a pitch on Monday, and No. 2 prospect Heliot Ramos joined Bart on the injured list with a knee injury.
Webb tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, specifically Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (DHCMT), otherwise known as oral turinabol, a pill patented in 1961 by an East German company and used as a performance-enhancing anabolic steriod in the Eastern Bloc. The drug can help muscles retain protein to build or repair them.
“The San Francisco Giants are disappointed that Logan Webb has violated the terms of Major League Baseball’s Drug Prevention and Treatment Program resulting in his suspension,” the club said in a statement. “The Giants organization fully supports the MLB program and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing substances from our game.”
There has been a spike in positive tests recently, and the same drug has been linked to the suspension of Toronto outfielder Chris Coleballo’s suspension, and that of Blue Jays reliever Thomas Pannone, who tested positive in the 2018 offseason. Boston’s Michael Chavis and Philadelphia’s Daniel Stumpf and Alec Asher have also been suspended in recent years for use of the drug.
According to a statement from Webb himself, he has known about the positive results for a month and a half.
“For the past month and a half I have tried endlessly to find the answer to why the M4 metabolite was found in my urine sample,” he said. “I have done research, I have talked to people who know a lot more about it than I do, and I have sent in an endless amount of supplements and products for testing that I have used over the past couple years. Unfortunately, none of those things have helped me find that answer, and the time for me to find the reason that this has happened has run out.”
DHCMT used to be known as a drug that cleared the system quickly, but recent research has extended the window of detection, which may have led to the current spike. There is no known major pharmaceutical company that produces DHCMT.
“I know in my heart that something someday will be put into the world to prove my innocence,” Webb said. “That being said, I do not disagree with MLB’s policy, and respect the drug testing system that has been put in place. I love this game and respect it too much to ever cheat it. I am heartbroken over this and I am not sure why this is happening to me, but in life some things happen for a reason and it is my job now to find that reason.”
Born in Rocklin, Webb graduated from Rocklin High School, and was picked by the Giants in the fourth round of the 2014 draft. He underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016 and returned in 2017 with a 2.89 ERA in 15 relief outings with Single-A Salem-Keizer. He made 26 starts last year between Single-A San Jose and Double-A Richmond and had a 2.41 ERA, which earned him a spot on the 40-man roster and an invite to big-league spring training.
Webb’s suspension opens up a 40-man roster spot for Stephen Vogt, who is reportedly being called up to the big club on Wednesday. The Giants would have to make a corresponding move on the 25-man roster to activate Vogt, however. Reliever Reyes Moronta still has two minor league options left, but San Francisco can’t afford to lose an effective piece of the bullpen. Steven Duggar and Joe Panik both have options, but both are starters, and unlikely to be optioned. The same goes for starting pitcher Dereck Rodriguez.
Ty Blach has options, but was just recalled on Monday. After his outing on Tuesday — mainly to soak up innings for a tired bullpen — it’s possible he heads right back to Triple-A Sacramento.