Just three days before the MLB Draft, Jonathan Gray tested positive (yesterday) for an ADHD drug, Adderall. Gray was considered one of the top choices for the Astros, and still may go number one in Thursday’s draft (click here for a CTH article on the Astros #1 pick). Does the positive test change things? Let’s take a look.
Jonathan Gray’s positive test was for the use of Adderall. As Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle said,
"The drug is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder but has been misused by athletes in the past to improve focus. Adderall is allowed in MLB with a doctor’s prescription, but reports indicated that Gray did not have a prescription. He would have to fail two drug tests as a pro to be subject to a suspension."
All MLB players that use the drug need to have a prescription for the drug, but Gray did not have one. More than 110 players were granted exemptions in 2012. Carlos Ruiz was recently suspended 25 games for the use of Adderall without permission. Gray is not subject to suspension as he is not yet in the MLB. According to an ESPN.com report citing league sources, Gray may be subjected to follow-up testing when his MLB career begins.
Jon Heyman of cbssports.com says,
"Major leaguers with certain conditions can apply for a therapeutic-use exemption (T.U.E.) that excuses them from being tested for specific drugs. It is estimated that about 100 players have a T.U.E., many of which allow stimulants to combat various conditions, including ADD."
The big question is; How does this affect Gray and the Astros?
Well it’s possible the Astros have completely removed Gray from their draft board. With options such as Mark Appel, Kris Bryant, and Colin Moran, the Astros may decide that the positive test is enough to take him out of consideration. Adderall helps players focus, and if the Astros feel that this helped his performance, they may believe he is not capable of performing at a high level without Adderall.
However, it’s also possible the Astros will use this as leverage to sign Gray to a lower deal. The Astros have had Gray mocked to them by several MLB Draft experts, and this positive test may allow the Astros to sign Gray for less money. The recommended slot value for the number one pick is around $7.8 million. Both Appel and Gray could have both demanded around that figure as they are expected to go either one or two. However, the Astros could now claim they will take Appel because of this positive test, unless Gray takes a bigger discount.
This is certainly a possibility, but does have one flaw. If the Cubs still go according to what all experts believe, then they will still take the best remaining pitcher (Appel or Gray) with their #2 overall pick, thus rendering that argument useless. Gray will still likely go at least one or two, as most experts believe this positive test won’t affect Gray’s draft status. He should still be able to ask for at least $6.7 million (recommended slot money for second pick), and that may be the biggest discount the Astros could get from Gray.
Were the Astros going to take Gray at number one before the positive test? No one really knows. However, this positive test could change things. When ESPN broke the news about the positive test, I could not help but think this changes things for the Astros. Just before the news broke out, I thought the Astros would take Gray, however, I now believe it is between Appel, Kris Bryant, Colin Moran, or Clint Frazier. I have never been a huge fan of Jonathan Gray as I personally don’t believe he will be better than Appel, and I would believe Appel is both the safer option and the better pitcher.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself after the first pick is made.
If the Astros take Appel, was it because of Gray’s positive test?
If the Astros take Gray, was it because they could sign him to a cheaper deal (would have to wait for $ details)?
If the Astros take Bryant, Moran, or Frazier, was it because they were going to take Gray, but decided to go with a two or three-for-one strategy once the Gray announcement came out?
One way or another, all of our questions will be answered on Thursday night.
How do you think the Gray announcement affects both Gray and the Astros? Sound off in the comments section below!