After losing Heliot Ramos and Joey Bart to knee and hand injuries, respectively, the Giants’ rebuilding farm system takes another big hit. Logan Webb, right-handed starting pitcher in Double-A right now and the Giants’ #5 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, has been suspended 80 games for violating the league’s performance enhancing drug policy.
He tested positive for a substance called dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, which I can assure you is not a word I made up just now.
Here is a tweet along with a formal statement from Webb himself:
Webb proclaims his innocence and insists that he doesn’t know how the drug got into his system, and while it seems impossible for an extremely made-up sounding word like dehydrochlormethyltestosterone to get into a person’s body without their knowledge, it’s not implausible.
There was a recent spike in positive tests for dehydrochlormethyltestosterone which I’ll now refer to as DHCMT because I just read an article that abbreviated it as such. DHCMT is the generic name or the lab name for Turinabol, which might be a PED of which you’ve heard.
This was the same drug that led to Toronto OF Chris Coleballo’s suspension in 2016. More recently, Toronto reliever Thomas Pannone was suspended 80 games for testing positive in the 2018 offseason. Colabello never played another major league game, but Pannone has been a reliever in the Blue Jays’ pen the past two seasons.
A little more about DHCMT from The New York Times:
Developed in the 1960s by Jenapharm, an East German drug company, Turinabol became a foundation of the East German sports machine that rivaled the United States and the Soviet Union for medal supremacy at the Olympics in the 1970s and 1980s.
After the collapse of the Soviet bloc, Turinabol largely disappeared, and antidoping experts do not know any major pharmaceutical company that produces the drug, whose chemical compound is dehydrochlormethyltestosterone.
Yet athletes have found a way to obtain Turinabol, which can help muscles retain protein to build or repair them, and more player suspensions for the drug may be announced in the coming weeks, according to a person with knowledge of baseball’s antidoping program.
It’s plausible that Webb used some sort of designer steroid or sketchy supplement he didn’t know had DHCMT in it, but in the case of a designer steroid, that’s still evidence of an attempt to subvert the rules and in the case of the sketchy supplement, you’d think he’d be a little more outspoken about it in his apology statement in which he insists he didn’t know how the substance got into his system and he searched to find out where it might’ve come from — that didn’t happen, though.
This article sheds light on the risk-reward involved with using DHCMT. In short, the drug pushers haven’t caught up to the fact that the drug testing can catch what was once considered to be a drug that clears the system quickly.
In simple terms, additional research has identified new long term metabolites that can extend the window of detection. The improvements in detection capabilities may be contributing to the current spike. An off-season Oral-T doping regimen that would previously be expected to clear the body quickly based on experience may not be useable anymore with the improved detection capabilities. Given that these positives are coming from preseason or early season testing, this theory seems strong.
This season has already been a series of undulating bummers down on the farm. The Giants win, they lose a prospect, the Giants lose, they lose a prospect. In Webb’s case, they drafted him when he was just 17 years old (back in 2014). His start to Double-A this year only added to his steadily building resume. A 31:7 K:BB in 27 IP with a 2.00 ERA. The McCovey Chronicles community ranked him the team’s #5 overall prospect, too.
That leaves Marco Luciano and Shaun Anderson as the only two still playing out of the top five (they’re also in MLB Pipeline’s top 5 for the Giants’ system). We don’t know how Webb will do upon his return, same with Joey Bart or even Heliot Ramos. In Webb’s case, though, the scrutiny will be a little more intense and now it looks like his performance will be tough to replicate.
This is what a farm system is all about though, right? Setbacks, surprises, and genuine bummers.
Just a bummer.