Oh how painful the fall from grace must be for the Atlanta Braves top prospect Jordan Schafer.
The Braves future center fielder was suspended 50 games for his first violation of baseball's drug policy for using human growth hormone. He led all of the minor leagues in hits last year and was even voted as the top 13-year old in 2000 by Baseball America.
Most analysts/experts are speculating that this does not explain his enormous leap in ability last year and this suspension will almost certainly not ruin his chances of playing in the majors this year.
I personally am a little shocked by this, but then again I'm not. Obviously, the league has been cracking down on HGH and steroid use. Several investigations have shown that the majority of players testing positive have been players in the minors or borderline stars in the majors.
It is tough for me to really be surprised when it has been estimated that nearly 60-70% (though the percentage has varied greatly) of players in the majors are currently using.
Many stories have been written about the steroid era and they will continue, but I have to ask: Will there ever be a time when we will see pure baseball? As a true fan of the game, I find myself conflicted on the issue. I want to believe that what I'm seeing is honest, pure, and a product of actual talent. On the other hand, I cannot ignore the pervasiveness of steroids and HGH and the stain they have left on the game.
Living in metropolitan Atlanta, I have the chances to see these Braves farm players up close and personal. Now, I cannot but help to think in the back of my mind that maybe whatever young prospect I see might not be for real. I want to say that steroids and HGH have shaken my trust in the game of baseball to my core, but I'm not there yet. I would say I'm cautiously optimistic.