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Reds’ Noelvi Marte, one of MLB’s top prospects, gets 80-game PED suspension after positive test

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Cincinnati Reds top prospect Noelvi Marte has been suspended 80 games after testing positive for Boldenone, a performance-enhancing substance, Major League Baseball announced Friday. The suspension will begin on Opening Day. Marte can participate in spring training and play in spring games until then.

“The Reds fully support Major League Baseball’s drug policy and it’s penalties,” the team said in a statement. “We will have no further comment.”

Marte, 22, was acquired from the Seattle Mariners as the headliner in the Luis Castillo trade at the 2022 deadline. He made his MLB debut last season and hit .316/.366/.456 in 35 games. Marte will be eligible to return in Cincinnati’s 81st game of the regular season on June 26. That is the final game of a three-game home series with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Our R.J. Anderson ranked Marte the No. 14 prospect in baseball entering spring training. Here’s his write-up:

CBS Sports has and will continue to be higher on Marte than most shops because of the notion that it’s easier to teach a batter how to lift the ball than it is to teach him how to strike the ball with authority. Predictably, Marte can really sting the ball. His 115.6 mph maximum exit velocity placed him in a virtual tie with Bryce Harper and Pete Alonso. The catch is that the only qualified batter with a lower average launch angle than Marte’s 1.9 degrees was Pirates utility player Ji Hwan Bae.

Marte was expected to serve as Cincinnati’s everyday third baseman in 2024. The Reds have more infielders than roster spots and can fill the third base job fairly easily. Marte’s suspension figures to push former NL Rookie of the Year Jonathan India back into the everyday lineup. They could also put Jeimer Candelario or Spencer Steer at the hot corner.

“I believe in Noelvi Marte. He’s going to get through this,” Reds manager David Bell said Friday (per MLB.com). “When he does come back, he’s going to be welcomed back with open arms, and it’s going to be over.”  

Prior to his call up last season, Marte slashed .279/.358/.454 with 20 doubles and 11 home runs in 92 games split between Double-A and Triple-A. The Mariners originally signed him as an international amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2018. Marte received a $1.55 million signing bonus.

The Reds went 82-80 last season and missed the postseason by two games. They’re expected to take a step forward this season in part because high upside young players like Marte, Elly De La Cruz, and Matt McLain have gotten their feet wet, and are closer to breaking out.

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