This week, Major League Baseball’s Friday afternoon drug suspension news dump included a familiar name: Marlins outfield prospect Tristan Pompey. He’s been banned without pay for the first 50 games of the 2022 season for a second positive test of a drug of abuse.
There is a distinction between “drugs of abuse” and performance-enhancing drugs, as explained in the Minor League Drug Prevention And Treatment Program. Getting caught with the latter even one time results in a 60-game suspension for minor leaguers. Pompey was not cheating—he’s being sidelined for recreational drug use.
Initially, Pompey made a nice transition to the pros after being selected in the third round of the 2018 MLB Draft. He posted a .408 on-base percentage across three MiLB levels while playing most of his defensive innings in center field.
But his production has cratered since then. His 2019 (.197/.300/.272) and 2021 (.195/.314/.262) slash lines were similarly awful with only one home run during those 99 combined games. Demonstrating such an utter lack of power from both sides of the plate against opposing pitchers of the same age and proving to be unfit for any center field reps cut deeply into his playing time and prospect stock.
Pompey’s 2021 campaign was abbreviated by an unspecified injury—he didn’t make any MiLB appearances after August 11.
As a 2018 college pick, Pompey was eligible for this winter’s Rule 5 Draft. The MLB press release states that Pompey is on the Double-A Pensacola roster, which means that the Marlins did not even bother protecting him from the minor league phase of the Rule 5 (otherwise he’d be on the Triple-A Jacksonville roster right now).
Their indifference toward Pompey is unsurprising. In a since-deleted comment on Alex Vesia’s Instagram post that celebrated the Dodgers advancing to the 2021 National League Championship Series, Pompey said, “Imagine being with a winning organization!” Vesia was also part of Miami’s 2018 draft class, but unlike Pompey, he actually produced in the minors, establishing enough value to be sent to L.A. in last year’s Dylan Floro trade.
Pompey turns 25 on March 23. He will be eligible to return from his suspension on June 5, though there is a decent chance that he has played his final game in the Marlins org.