A bombshell came from out of the blue on Friday evening as MLB announced that Blue Jays’ minor league pitcher, Thomas Pannone, tested positive for Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone (DHCMT) and will be suspended for 80 games once the season begins.
Pannone was drafted in the ninth round in 2013 by the Cleveland Indians and he has steadily risen through the ranks since. Pannone came to Toronto along with minor league infielder Samad Taylor as part of the deal that sent reliever Joe Smith to the Indians on July 31 of 2017. Pitching in Advanced-A and Double-A in 2017, he had some excellent success (as he did in A-ball in 2016) with a 2.36 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, striking out 149 batters in 144 2/3 innings, walking only 36.
Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone is the same substance that Chris Colabello tested positive for in 2016. Like Colabello, Pannone is flummoxed as to how the substance got into him. He released the following statement.
My statement on today’s decision by the Office of the Commissioner: pic.twitter.com/T9F2ptON7n
— Thomas Pannone Jr (@ThomasPannone) March 16, 2018
Additionally, when reached for comment, Blue Jays’ GM Ross Atkins said the following:
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) March 16, 2018
Pannone’s teammates have come out to support him.
With you bro! https://t.co/911FKJU70Y
I’ll always support you and I’ll always be in your corner fighting by your side. Can’t wait to see what this year holds for you! @ThomasPannone love you bro!
— Sean Ian Reid-Foley (@SReidFoley21) March 16, 2018
I will always be in your corner my guy https://t.co/8tGFCZyRKZ
With you all the way buddy! https://t.co/V1S8HCCfXX
This situation is difficult for Pannone, but not insurmountable. Having interviewed him and seeing the response his statement is getting from his teammates, I have no reason to believe that he can’t return later this season to the mound. Particularly important is the statement made by Atkins on behalf of the Blue Jays standing by him.
This will shake up the projected pitching staff to start the year in Buffalo but Pannone should be able to at least get back to Double-A, if not move to Triple-A, in the back half of the season.
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