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Top prospect Guerrieri suspended 50 games for drug violation

Top pitching prospect RHP Taylor Guerrieri, the Rays No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, has been suspended 50 games for violating baseball's drug policy.

Guerrieri, according to MLB, twice violated of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program for a drug of abuse, which is believed to be marijuana.

Guerrieri, 20, was already sidelined for most of next season after underdoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery on JUly 24. According to MLB, the suspension will be served while he is on the disabled list, so he will not miss additional time.

Guerrieri is the third top Rays pick in the last two years - and 13th minor-leaguer overall - to be suspended; infielder Tim Beckham (2008) received a 50-game ban in May 2012 for a drug of abuse, outfielder Josh sale (2010) received a 50-game suspension for PED use in August 2012, and then was further suspended by the team for conduct detrimental to the organization.

Guerrieri pitched well through the first half of his first full season at Class A Bowling Green, going 6-2, 2.01 ERA in 14 starts. But he was given two weeks off due to what the team said was fatigue, then lasted only two innings in his July 15 return before leaving with elbow stiffness, then was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament and had surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews.

The normal rehab and recovery time for the surgery is at least 12 months. Guerrieri could get back into games by the end of the 2014 season or in the instructional league, but realistically won't pitch competitively until 2015. At that point, he is probably three years away from the majors.

There were charecter issues surrounding Guerrieri at the time the Rays drafted him, with questions tied to his decision to change high schools during his senior year. Guerrieri explained after the draft that it was an "alcohol-related incident" that led to him switching high schools during his senior year - drinking one beer before a school football game. "It was a mistake. I learned from it. I regret that it happened. It won't happen again,'' he said at the time.