Frank Ratcliff, a 19-year-old middle infielder who had a fine freshman season at college baseball power Miami, recently got busted for selling 21 grams of marijuana to an undercover police officer for $220.
Acting on a tip, the undercover officer made the buy, and a warrant search of Ratcliff’s residence later found 101 grams of pot and 19 vials of synthetic human growth hormone.
Because the sale and arrest were made on school property, Ratcliff faces a minimum three-year prison sentence. He was officially charged with various felonies yesterday and has already been suspended from Miami’s baseball team.
While I personally believe marijuana should be legalized, or at least decriminalized, and a minimum three-year sentence for selling less than an ounce of pot is outrageous, I still find myself profoundly irritated whenever I read a story about a young and apparently talented ballplayer who has done something this stupid and essentially thrown his career away.
In the 2010 season, Ratcliff hit .276 with an .846 OPS. His OPS is pretty terrific for a freshman middle infielder, and by the season’s end he had firmly established himself as the Hurricane’s starting second baseman.
Now, I’ll admit that his numbers were almost certainly inflated by HGH and/or steroid use (is there any chance he wasn’t at least using HGH if the cops found 19 vials of it in his residence?). Even so, I very much doubt he’s the only college player at a top program dabbling with HGH, which I understand is still harder to test for than steroids.
Ratcliff’s sheer stupidity bothers me. The odds are good he really didn’t need the money, because his fine freshman season virtually guarantees a full scholarship at Miami for the 2010/11 school year.
And who knows? In two year's time, Ratcliff might well have developed into a player selected in the first five or six rounds of the 2012 draft who would thus receive a six-figure signing bonus. It was certainly a reasonable possibility after the 2010 freshman season he had.
Instead, he’s headed off to the can, because they have him dead to rights, likely for three years, less time off for good behavior.
Young ballplayers, would you rather be starting for your college baseball team or throwing your future away because you want to make a little extra money selling illegal substances?
The answer seems fairly obvious to me, but you still read about one or two of these knuckleheads every year.