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Red Sox prospect Michael Kopech suspended 50 games for stimulant use

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That's the end of Kopech's 2015, as there are about seven weeks left in the minor-league season.

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The end of Michael Kopech's excellent 2015 is at an end, but not because of an injury: Major League Baseball announced that the 19-year-old right-hander was suspended 50 games for the illegal use of a stimulant, and the Greenville Drive have exactly 50 games left.

The stimulant in question is Oxilofrine, an amphetamine that is found in some dietary supplements. Whether Kopech ingested it unknowingly that way or took it on purpose is a mystery, but he's serving a 50-game suspension either way. This isn't the majors, where a player can appeal such a ruling: Kopech was drafted just last year and isn't on the 40-man roster, and has essentially zero rights, so he'll be suspended without pay for this entire time to boot.

Kopech had thrown 65 innings with 70 strikeouts and a 2.63 ERA, and was a breakout prospect of sorts who would have received a bit more love if he had been allowed to throw more pitches and innings. The Red Sox don't have to worry about his workload so much now, as he's got the rest of 2015 off to prepare for next season, in which he'll likely play for High-A Salem.

If this was intentional by Kopech, hopefully he's learned his lesson. If not, hopefully he's still learned a lesson about reading labels and checking with what's allowed and what isn't.

Update: Kopech released a statement to MiLB.com following the announcement of his suspension.

"I would like to start by apologizing to all of baseball, baseball fans, and specifically the Red Sox and Red Sox fan base. I respect the game as much, if not more than, anyone else. With that being said, I never have and never will intentionally cheat the game that has been so great to me. I haven't bought any supplements that aren't NSF certified for sport. Therefore, I know I have not bought a supplement containing this drug. I have never heard of Oxilofrine, honestly. Apparently, it is a drug that many people use for weight loss. I have been trying to gain weight since I signed with the Red Sox. I do understand this is also a stimulant. This drug would have no positive outcome for me and that's why I chose to appeal. I realized I didn't have much evidence to prove that I'm innocent, but I didn't have any understanding of how I could have failed a test. I respect the system and understand why they have to be so careful with the testing. I also understand why that means my suspension couldn't have been overturned without proper evidence. I have 50 games to get to work and better myself and as a ball player. Next season I'll be better than ever. Drug free."