Nats farmhand Zinicola hit with 50-game suspension

Nationals minor league pitcher Zech Zinicola has received a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball for a second violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, according to a press release.

The 26-year-old Zinicola’s ban stemmed from a “drug of abuse,” according to the release, meaning it wasn’t for using performance-enhancing drugs. He was on the Triple-A Syracuse roster.

The right-hander, a sixth-round pick of the Nationals in 2006, was 3-0 with a 2.01 ERA and five saves in 32 relief appearances between Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse in 2011. In six minor league seasons, he’s 18-15 with a 4.05 ERA and 49 saves.

The suspension will start at the beginning of the 2012 season.

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