Potential Top Draft Pick Jonathan Gray Reportedly Tests Positive for Banned Stimulant

jonathan gray oklahomaMLB teams were informed a few days ago that Jonathan Gray, a junior pitcher at Oklahoma, tested positive for the banned stimulant Adderall during his pre-Draft drug screening, according to multiple reports. Sources tell Keith Law that Gray did not have a prescription for the drug, which would have excused the positive test. Gray is considered a consensus top five pick on talent, and is/was under heavy consideration by the Cubs for their number two overall pick.

There is no suspension associated with a draft-eligible player failing a drug screening, though it does subject Gray to increased testing once he becomes a professional. Big leaguers are suspended 25 games for testing positive for a banned stimulant a second time (there is no suspension for a first positive test).

So, yeah. I know what you’re wondering. What’s the fallout here?

As with all complicated and nuanced issues, the right answer is “it depends.”

Does Gray have a known condition that warrants the use of Adderall, and the lack of a prescription is a misunderstanding/procedural goof/etc.? If so, this is no big deal. If not, then it might be a slight issue – Gray reportedly lost a good deal of weight and got into great condition before the 2013 season, where his performance has spiked – but I doubt it drives Gray too far down the boards. The issue is less the “drug” – many players use is under an exemption (prescription) – and more the “judgment.”

Indeed, Law indicates something you may have already suspected: with a positive drug test on his records (albeit one that doesn’t scare teams), Gray’s bonus demands may have to drop slightly. That could make Gray a more attractive draft pick, not a less attractive one, as the selecting team might get a top five talent at a price tag below that level, which allows them to spend more elsewhere in the Draft.

Ultimately, it introduces a new level of uncertainty into the equation as the Cubs make one of their most important draft picks in years. They’ve met with Gray, and they’ve known about this issue for several days now. They’ll have a plan, and they’ll have a good sense of how this issue affects their position on Gray come Thursday.

I suppose the best context we can give this is to imagine that the Cubs selected Gray, and then found out about the positive test. How are we feeling then? I’m probably a little disappointed and a little nervous. And I’d probably research the effects of Adderall on athlete performance like a mad beast. I’d also wonder, if this is no big deal and just a thing that happens, why Gray was the only player who tested positive (again, reportedly).

Does that added anxiety mean the Cubs should now pass on Gray? They’ve got at least two quality options at the top of the Draft already – Mark Appel and Kris Bryant – so it is not as if passing on Gray means their top pick will be a disaster.

Still, if they think the test is no big deal, and believe Gray is the best talent on the board when they pick, maybe this is a non-issue.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

179 responses to “Potential Top Draft Pick Jonathan Gray Reportedly Tests Positive for Banned Stimulant”

  1. npnovak

    It’s just adderall, I don’t think this changes much

    1. MichiganGoat

      As someone whose been on Adderall and other “stimulates” to combat fatigue associated with MS I can absolutely testify to it’s impact on concentration, focus, durability, and performance. Without them my body completely crashes and with it I can focus on the level a person without MS enjoys everyday. I would imagine if I didn’t need it to function it would heighten and increase my focus, stamina, and performance but I’d also find myself crashing more frequently. The reason I changed medication was because of the crash and the fear by my doctor of future dependency. If this is a valid reason I’m not concerned but if it was something else I’d be fearful of drafting him. If abused without a doctors observation it can have serious consequences, I’m sure out FO is all over this but the fact that he’s looked better this year than he did previously worries me. Yes many people have used Adderall to write a paper, study for finals, get that project done but if it’s continually used without doctor care it has consequences. This is nothing to just thow out.

    2. Jp3

      “Looks like he picked the wrong week to quit doing Adderall”.

      1. cjdubbya

        Well played, sir. *applauds*

  2. Ivy Walls

    Go back to the Cubs point about impact player, especially at the #2, Gray is no longer there—period, he is a risk (good or bad) down the line.

    I say take whomever is closer to Babe Ruth

  3. josh ruiter

    further fall out…what if this scares the Astros out of Gray, who could then plausibly got the other potential ace and take Appel #1. Then suppose the Cubs also flinch at Gray because of the positive test and are left to pick between Bryant, Moran, or lets through in a few high schoolers (one of Frazier and Meadows) or the supreme upside of Kohl Stewart? That really flips the script on the draft in my opinion. I really don’t like Bryant. Phenomenal power? yes, future of Mark Reynolds, very likely! not a #2 pic I am happy with.

  4. Nate

    Adderall is speed. It’s amphetamines. That’s what’s used to treat ADHD, because it works by stimulating the frontal lobe of the brain, thus “slowing down” decision making process by increasing executive function. It certainly works to treat ADHD, but because it’s speed, plenty of people try to get it/use it for other benefits. It’s technically the same as the greenies ballplayers have been using for decades.

    1. JB88

      Exactly. Improving concentration levels for a pitcher that, until this year, had real question marks around his performance, this finding scares the crap out of me. At this point, I don’t want anything to do with Gray. This raises way too many red flags for me, including making me question how legitimate his results would be without use of adderal.

      1. hansman1982

        His “out of nowhere” performance scared me a bit before all of this.

        1. Bric

          Agreed. Also, a few days ago when the Astros, Cubs and a couple of other teams started doing a little more “Due diligence” I suspected and stated there might be an unknown issue (either juice or an under the table injury) that was going to come up. I think it just did.

  5. Njriv

    He usues adderall? So does 80% of college students now a days.

  6. Oswego chris

    Is Gray pitching in a backyard in this photo?….I still take him, and you might save a few hundred thousand because of this

  7. Cizzle

    A college kid tests positive for Adderrall during finals week? Shocker!
    That being said, the kid has to realize that he’s under extreme scrutiny at the most pivotal time in his life. Disappointing.

  8. DarthHater

    Amphetamines have long been used to assist weight loss. Query whether Gray was using Adderall for that purpose. If so, I think it’s a possible matter of concern because it could indicate that his weight loss and his performance spike may not be readily sustainable when they no longer have the drug support.

    1. Rebuilding

      I think you have it right, Darth. The use of adderall in and of itself doesn’t really bother me at all. But given Gray’s weight loss and uptick in results you have to question if its sustainable. Could be an expensive failure for Gray

    2. Dustin S

      ^ Yep, was about to say the same. If Adderall is how he lost the weight, there’s a good risk of him gaining the weight back when he stops taking it. It puts more focus on the fact that his stats were a lot more average before this season. In fact if his stats were the same as his 2012 season, he wouldn’t have even been the best SP on Oklahoma’s roster this year (Dillon Overton).

      1. MichiganGoat

        Absolutely trust me about the weight loss/gain another reason my doctor took me off it (and Ritalin before) it can really help a person with fatigue and ADHD but there is real risks.

  9. The Dude Abides

    It’s finals time in school, keep that in mind. I’m sure his agent will remind everyone several times about that. Quite common for college kids pulling all nighters.

  10. Dave

    Gut reaction: A college kid taking Adderall without a prescription? What’s next, will they be binge drinking?!?

  11. FFP

    “Does that added anxiety mean the Cubs should now pass on Gray?”
    There are medications for this.

  12. Luke

    Wow. This does impact my thinking, but I’m not sure how yet.

    I wonder, though, if this partly explains the increased smoke on Moran to the Astros that appeared late last week. Prior to that the prevailing thinking (although still just a plurality) was that Gray would go to the Astros and was expected to sign for a couple mil under slot. And then suddenly Gray seemed to be out of the running and Moran (or Frazier according to a few) was the hot name.

    There probably isn’t a connection there (after all, I’m reading into rumors of rumors and the rumored arrival of rumors), but the timing is interesting.

  13. Norm

    You guys are nuts. This isn’t just “a college kid”. Normal “college kids” don’t have drug tests at this time. The guy is about to be a multi millionaire and he does this to jeopardize that?

    1. The Dude Abides

      Your right , BUT the spin will be college finals related. If the Cubs have any pause they will pass. I guess we will see how much Theo wants the guy and what they think about someone (honor student correct??) who was trying to finish up his exams.

      As far as him being the only one who tested positive for anything I didn’t read that just that he failed his test.

    2. Jason Powers

      People do dumb things and all variations on that theme.

      I was in the US Navy in 1990s, and we could be randomly drug tested at any time. People in top-tier programs (pilots with multimillion dollar training) down to the deck seaman got caught – and there are some very intellect people in the service, and dumb ones, too. Career path or success made no difference.

      And since when are athletes incredibly smart about such things? Who tells him what? How much has influence does the coach have on that?

      Money obviously makes little difference too. Robery Downey Jr. could have been banking tons of cash much earlier, but he got clean and wised up.

      Not saying Gray is on that level at all, so we should probably allow for what due diligence the Cubs did. Theo at least stated some favoritism for Gray, but that could be a ploy too.

      1. Norm

        This isn’t a random test. This is a planned test right before he is about to make $5M+.
        If the Navy said to you, “hey, we’re going to make you a SEAL in a couple months, and there will be a drug test right before it”. Would you take an amphetamine?!?

        1. Jason Powers

          There were people who were targeted – random was not once a month – I was in a class that got hit 8 times in 4 months, twice in 8 days, then a month off. 8th time a buddy got popped. Rumors got in that case. (Some people feel they are smart enough to beat it…)

          Again, are ballplayers at 21-22 suddenly that smart? I did rather say don’t take him because he’s too stupid to manage to avoid the taint, than the actuality of him doing this.

          And WE do not know the ENTIRE story. He could have take the short cut route to losing weight/improvement…anyone in America ever take a short cut to success???

          If the Cubs take him, with the LEGAL mind of Theo, it means what we are discussing was handled. If not, hey, we get a POWER bat! Hey! Hey!

  14. Norm

    And of the 200 players tested, he was the only nitwit to fail.

    No thanks.

    1. Jason Powers

      Fact or supposition? I didn’t see the total results. Maybe he’s just the high profile one that got caught and is the story.

      1. Norm

        Fact…in Keith Laws free espn write up.

        1. Jason Powers

          The sources Brett mentioned don’t show that.

          CBS says “believed to be”


          So that’s not exactly iron clad.

          1. Norm

            You’re right, must’ve been Heyman’s tweet I’m remembering…but does it matter? Total lack of judgement.

            1. Jason Powers

              IF the Cubs don’t draft him, and he goes on to a top of the rotation career, would you stand by your ethical guns?

              I am from a checkered past – far, far worse than Gray – yet now, I am an MBA, and on my way.

              Since athletes have only a window of opportunity (20-40) to make their careers, you can take the 5M-7M gamble he’s what you want, or shell it out for a backup alternative. You are sinking the money into someone with risks no matter what. IS Adderal the deal breaker? Do you use that in your selection process in real life? IF so, that’s fine. Consistency matters.

              Bigger question:Are the Cubs, consistent on this issue?

              1. Norm

                Yeah, I would, because there is no way of knowing if this boosted his performance this year or is the reason he kept his weight off. Ther are more question marks today than there were yesterday, enough to make Bryant a better choice, IMO.

                If the Cubs take him, they probably don’t have these questions.

                1. Jason Powers

                  That’s fair. Good discussion.

  15. FFP

    “The issue is less the ‘drug’… and more the ‘judgment.’”
    He will be gotten cheaper because of some added risk.
    –But, is it cheaper than he would have been if he was heavier and less focused/sped up?
    Maybe he has excellent judgement? Should we all be on Adderall???

    1. Dustin S

      The other problem with Gray is that he’s a JR, so if a team tries to get a discount for this he can pull an Appel and not sign and go back for his SR year. Not likely but a chance. I doubt the Pirates expected Appel to do it when they took him #8 overall last year and got burned.

      1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        Actually most thought it was a strong possibility and said so last year when they took him.

      2. hansman1982

        If he doesn’t sign and is smart, take the Adderall up until about a week before the test comes around. Boom, back to back good seasons and a #1 pick.

      3. Jim L

        Except there are 2 pitchers who possibly will be taken ahead of Gray in 2014; so if he passed on the Cubs or Astros lowballing him, there is no guarantee that he makes that money back next year.

  16. Jason Powers

    Houston decides on Appel. Cubs could get a discount because of the drug test. Certainly not the worst thing an athlete has done. Not even all that alarming – if the Cubs did their due diligence, and he confess in private, then it is a non issue for the pick. (Perspective people as 110 players in the MLB were granted exemptions in the 1st source cited above .)

    Unless they are in love with Bryant – and see him as A-Ram or King Kong Kingman (with better people skills and OBP), stick with the pitcher.

    But will see soon enough the ripple…

    1. EvenBetterNewsV2.0

      “(Perspective people as 110 players in the MLB were granted exemptions in the 1st source cited above .)”

      There are people who actually need the drug. He probably does not, as he did not have an exemption. Big difference.

      1. Jason Powers

        At 21-22 did you ALWAYS get permission for things? If you did not think it matter – or did not matter yet to your future (NCAA did not suspend him for usage?) Not as big a deal as will create on a message board.

        I am just saying, it does not fall into the oh, he’s a character issue case. (If he was violent, did hard narcotics, or got constantly into trouble, then, I would be hesitant and avoid him.)

        1. Jimmy James

          Not concerned about character issue from this but like others worry if it explains the performance this year…..I suppose we will see on draft day whether teams think it did.

  17. another JP

    Can’t take him @ #2 now. No way, especially when Appel & Bryant are available. Gray had other concerns anyways, so this should make the choice a bit clearer for the Cubs.

  18. Dan

    I don’t think it’s a big deal at all. I spoke a friend of mine from college who is now a writer for a major baseball website about his thoughts on Gray vs Appel – He told me that he feels like Appel is a mid rotation starter as a floor and top #1 starter as a ceiling while Gray is a set up man as a floor and a top rotation starter as a ceiling –
    As for Adderall – I would like to know what he tested for exactly, was it a few milligrams from a instant relief pill or was it from taking an extended release tablet. Also, I think people should withhold judgement until all the facts come out,

  19. mudge


    1. Chase S.

      No joke there.

  20. SenorGato

    My major fear is that if the Astros take a pitcher it will Appel. This increases that fear. #Appelorbust

    1. SenorGato

      Oh yeah and Lol @ failing a drug test for a methamphetamine. Pretty much means he took it well within 24 hours.

      Are finals still going on for.some.schools?

      1. MichiganGoat

        I’m guessing he might have taken finals late because of playoffs

      2. Luke

        Adderall is not meth. Let’s not get carried away here.

        1. MichiganGoat

          No but it can be abused like meth… so the question becomes how and why he is using it.

          1. Luke

            Um, no.

            There is no medical reason for meth. At all.

            There are medical reason for this drug (thus it being potentially available under prescription).

            This is bad, don’t get me wrong, but it isn’t in the same category as him testing positive for a purely recreational drug that has no know medical uses. And that’s what I mean by let’s not get carried away. The facts are bad enough; we don’t need to toss extra baggage from pejorative laden inaccuracies on top of them.

            1. MichiganGoat

              Correct but there are plenty of people that abuse it like meth. And now I’m not saying that’s what’s happening here but it is abused like meth by people.

              1. MichiganGoat

                I say Adderall is to meth as Vicodin is to heroin. If that makes more sense.

        2. SenorGato

          You’re right. I don’t know why I always do that with Adderall since this isn’t the first time ive done that. Its closer to cocaine.

          1. MichiganGoat

            I wouldn’t go that far unless it horribly abused but it does similar things but more consistent and last longer.

  21. Dan

    “I don’t think it’s that big a deal,” one GM said. “The kid may have [a condition].” So if a GM isn’t worried about it – why the heck is anyone else – It’s Adderall, not cocaine – May the first person to not make a mistake at 20 throw the first stone – if this is McClepstoyer’s guy then they should take him and not worry it.

    1. Rebuilding

      I don’t think anyone is throwing stones, Dan. Most of the comments here have been generally that depending on the frequency of use its really no big deal. Obviously, adderall is pervasive on college campuses. To me, and it seems others, it’s really more about whether it increased his performance on the baseball field through increased concentration or weight loss and how that may have made his performance better in an unsustainable way

      1. Dan

        Actually I disagree – people are saying, “Can’t take him now”…Actually you CAN if it’s your guy, you take him…it’s Adderall -

        1. Rebuilding

          Just to play devil’s advocate. What if that’s what helped him lose 20-25 pounds and therefore up ticked his velocity? And what if that weight loss is unsustainable without “help”? There have been concerns about his body type. Now, that has not been shown to be true, but it would raise concerns I would think

          1. ari gold

            Then he just gets a prescription for it.

            1. MichiganGoat

              Even if he has a prescription it doesn’t change the concerns over why he needs Adderall- that’s a question that must be answered. I’m not sure which is better that he has a medical reason that requires a substance that could enhance his performance or just a stupid decision. Anyway I look at this it makes me nervous.

  22. mudge

    Would anyone still take him first?

    1. Luke

      Possibly. There is the potential for a lot of context to emerge here that could affect thinking. And there is the added effect that this could crush his signing demand, make him very unlikely to return to college (can he afford the risk of even a slightly down year next season?), and on and on.

      This is not good no matter you slice it, but that doesn’t mean it has destroyed his draft status that badly.

      1. MichiganGoat

        Yeah he’ll still get drafted in the first round unless more damning evidence appears, but I think this scares Houston from him… unless there is a very valid reason.

      2. Dan

        I don’t think he was going first anyway but it’s possible – I’d be shocked if it caused him to free fall in the draft

  23. Rebuilding

    I was a little fuzzy on the exemption process on adderall. I’m actually surprised there are that many exemptions (if 110 is correct). As someone who also got through some law school exams on the stuff it really is a competitive advantage

    1. Jason Powers

      And yet, would you not take the guy because he used a competitive advantage, that YOU, have used too to get ahead? That would be quite hypocritical – You can gain the edge of a legal career, but no, if an athlete takes something (that helps, and can be waivered).

      Your above post makes much more sense – if they pass due to the body type issue. But that’s pretty slim, but I could live with that argument.

      1. Rebuilding

        Totally different circumstances. Lawyers aren’t tested for such substances before exams. Theoretically, I could keep using it. Gray will now be subject to increased testing therefore it would be difficult for him to use again. I don’t think it’s hypocritical at all – if I was HIRING for a law firm and knew someone was using it would also raise concerns for me. Your analogy is like saying that because I used steroids sometime in the past then I’m hypocritical for being concerned if Barry Bonds does

        1. Rebuilding

          And btw…I didn’t say not to take Gray. The FO has much more info than we do. He’s personally not my guy – I want Bryant – but if they think he’s the best guy and are satisfied with explanation then they should take him

          1. Jason Powers

            I understood that.

        2. Jason Powers

          Maybe lawyers should be tested. I’d like my potential future legal counsel to be much more above reproach than the average college kid on adderal.

          I guess it is a tense issue. Using is currently – cause for concern. Whereas, I did use adderal – say 1 year ago – is ok.

          How much time would have to pass between using and did use? A year?
          If you have qualms, would just a logical explanation cure that problem?

          1. Rebuilding

            I don’t necessarily disagree with you re: testing. Drug use in the legal field is rampant. I just don’t see how what I have done has any bearing on the #2 pick in the MLB draft. Are you saying the Cubs shouldn’t take this into consideration at all? And, yes if there is some valid excuse and they don’t think there was repeated use that would somehow diminish his performance in the future then Im fine with them overlooking it

            1. Jason Powers

              It has no bearing. I had written a long moralizing post as a response, but I suppose if you are a lawyer, you have it all together. You’re right. Case dismissed. Cubs will do their diligence. We will see.

          2. Kyle

            As the person hiring the lawyer, you are free to require one in order for him to procure your hire. (I assume. Is there a law against that?) Just as MLB has.

            1. JB88

              You could ask but any lawyer worth his/her salt would laugh you out of the room.

      2. JB88

        The difference is that rebuilding isn’t facing random drug screenings or having $6M invested in him. Huge difference. Context of use is hugely important and being overlooked by the vast majority of people who want to compare themselves or another random college student to Gray.

  24. cubchymyst

    So if I read that right, MLB players can use Adderall if prescribed. So if the Cubs draft Gray they could probably find a doctor who will right him a prescription. This seems like a small issue overall.

    1. MichiganGoat

      The question is why would he need it and what benefit does he get from it. Your body does develop a tolerance to Adderall when used for a long period of time. If it has benefited his performance (regardless is it was medically prescribed) my fear is what happens if he goes off it or his body gains a tolerance.

      1. cubchymyst

        Any idea how long it takes for the body to build a tolerance to Adderall? It be nice to know how long Gray has been using it. Currently, I wouldn’t adjust his position on a draft board over this, but new information could change that.

        1. MichiganGoat

          For me it was 3-4 years before my doctor decided that it wasn’t working it should anymore. Now why I take it is different than why he might be taking it, my greatest concern was the crash I’d start feeling by the evening. I’ve been off it for about five years now and I’m mush more “even” with the new medication than Adderall ever provided. I had to take it on a very regimented schedule to keep me balanced for an entire day.

          1. cubchymyst

            A crash is never a good thing, ups and downs are best avoided. I’m sure who ever is in charge of the medical staff would keep those from occurring. Just wish there was more information out there because we have no clue the reason for the use.

            1. MichiganGoat

              My concern that if it was a valid medical reason his advisors, doctors, agents would be all prepared for this.

          2. mudge

            MS is rough. Sorry you got that to deal with, MG.

            1. MichiganGoat

              Thx is been about 20 years now and I’ve been quite lucky so far – just numbness in feet and fatigue (which is handled nicely by medications) it could be worse but advances in treatment and medication have helped.

  25. Dan

    ADD is very easily diagnosed – “Hey Doc, I’m having trouble concentrating and I think I have ADD”…Do a few tests and doc says, “Here’s a script”

  26. mudge

    The plot thickens…

  27. Voice of Reason

    The cubs brass will do their homework on the drug boy. If its a problem they will pass.

    Put your trust in Epstein and the boys to make the right pick. Its as simple as that.

    1. Jason Powers

      Epstein Esq.

  28. Kygavin

    As a current college Aderall, and other drugs like it, are widely used/sold and not really hidden that well when people do it so I dont really see this as a huge deal. That being said it wasnt the best decision Mr. Gray could have made and it is likely to cost him some money but the talent is still there even if he got into better shape by using the drug. I still think the Cubs go Appel (Dont think Houston takes him because he wont sign a large underslot deal) but the possibility of saving some money and getting the guy projected as a top 2 pick all year should be enticing for one of the teams picking after the Cubs

    1. Kygavin

      current college student* (edit button….)

  29. EricR

    Way too early for me to have an educated opinion on this. I think the smart move is to sit back and way for context.

    1. mudge

      What fun is that?

  30. Die hard

    Agreed– take the catcher and teach a team to fish

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