Former LSU baseball player Sean Ochinko, a key offensive cog on the 2009 national championship team, was one of three minor leaguers suspended for 50 games Monday for violating the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
He tested positive for amphetamines according to Major League Baseball.
Primarily a first baseman and catcher at LSU, Ochinko was the Tigers’ leading hitter at .368 during their 2009 College World Series run. LSU coach Paul Mainieri said Ochinko attributed the positive test to an Adderall pill he took to stay alert during a recent doubleheader.
“He had to catch both ends of the doubleheader one day because the other catcher was hurt,” Mainieri said. “It was the dog days of August and he was exhausted and he tried to get a little extra boost. It came back in his face.”
Mainieri said Ochinko called him a few days ago to notify him of the suspension in a conversation that Mainieri said revealed Ochinko’s embarassment and true remorse.
And although Mainieri reaffirmed his love for his former player and stressed that the test was not a sign of habitual abuse, he minced no words in forecasting the tough road ahead for the 25-year-old catcher.
“It taints his reputation and you just hope he can overcome it,” Mainieri said. “No drugs are good for you and anytime you take illegal drugs to enhance your playing ability, it’s considered cheating.”
Now a member of the Buffalo Bison, the Toronto Blue Jays Triple-A affiliate, Ochinko was hitting .220 with three home runs and 17 RBIs before the suspension.
The suspension for all three players is without pay, according to the MLB.
A Parkland, Fla. native, Ochinko was named one of the top 300 high school prospects in the country by Baseball America coming out of Douglas High School. He was drafted in the eleventh round by the Blue Jays in 2009, and he’s remained in the organization throughout his career.
Mainieri lauded Ochinko’s strides, claiming his catching skills were improving steadily and he was hitting well enough to be considered a big league prospect. Now, that may all be in jeapordy.
“There’s no excuse for stuff like that. He doesn’t need it to be a good player,” Mainieri said. “I’m sure he never did anything when he was [at LSU], I honestly believe that.”