Free-agent right-hander Mark Hamburger has been suspended 50 games for violating the minor-league drug policy, reports Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
The 26-year-old right-hander, who got a brief cup of coffee with the Rangers in 2011, failed two tests for a recreational drug -- or "drug of abuse" -- which is grounds for a 50-game suspension under the minor-league drug policy. Hamburger is the second Astros' minor leaguer of note to fail a second test in the last two months, with top prospect Jonathan Singleton being handed a 50-game punishment in January.
Related: Is MLB's Drug Policy Working?
Hamburger split the 2012 season between the Rangers, Padres, and Astros' Triple-A clubs, posting a career-worst 6.20 ERA and 1.75 K/BB ratio in 78⅓ innings. The right-hander was released by the Astros a little more than a week ago, which leads one to believe that perhaps they knew the suspension was coming.
Obviously, Hamburger cannot serve his suspension as a free agent, so his 50-game punishment will not begin until he signs on with a new club (if someone signs him).
Signed by the Minnesota Twins as a non-drafted free agent in 2007, Hamburger owns a 4.03 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 rate, and 8.0 K/9 rate in 348 innings over six seasons of minor-league ball.