The disappointing professional career of former Bishop Eustace Prep baseball star Billy Rowell took a turn for the worse Monday when the former No. 1 draft pick received a 50-game suspension for drug use.
Rowell, selected by the Baltimore Orioles with the ninth pick in the 2006 draft, was suspended after a second violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a "drug of abuse," Major League Baseball announced.
Under the terms of the program, a "drug of abuse" is not a performance-enhancing drug.
Rowell is on the roster of Aberdeen of the short-season New York-Penn League. His suspension will be effective at the start of the IronBirds season on June 18.
Rowell, 23, is the third Orioles minor leaguer to be suspended this season.
"I'm sure any time those things happen - I am not going to get into comparing it to society - if there is one [player] it's a concern," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said at a news conference. "But unfortunately it's part of the world we live in and we try to keep it from happening. . . . I have children, and I understand the challenges that are out there. I'm not condoning anything."
Rowell was in extended spring training as the Orioles are attempting to convert him from an infielder/outfielder into a pitcher.
Baltimore selected Rowell a pick ahead of San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum, a two-time National League Cy Young Award winner.
Rowell received a $2.1 million signing bonus. After a solid start to his professional career, Rowell has struggled to make his way up the organizational ladder.
A corner infielder who also played the outfield, the 6-foot-4 Rowell was in Class A ball for several seasons. He finally was promoted to double-A Bowie last season, his sixth in the minors, but hit .244 with no homers and 11 RBIs in 41 games.
Rowell was The Inquirer's South Jersey Player of the Year in 2006. He led Bishop Eustace to the Non-Public B state title as a senior and finished his career with 35 home runs and 158 RBIs.