Eric Filia has never been a top prospect, but the UCLA product’s circuitous route to a possible MLB future has been interesting to follow. Unfortunately, the OF/1B who was likely to open the season in AAA-Tacoma will instead spend the first 100 games of the season suspended.
To reach the 100-game suspension tier, you must fail two prior tests. Filia reportedly was popped after being drafted, then once again for a 50-game suspension in 2018. The distinction of “drug of abuse” separates it from the “performance-enhancing drug” section, and while the drugs in question are not typically disclosed we’ve heard from multiple sources that marijuana is the drug in question that has gotten Filia warned and subsequently suspended twice.
As always, it’s worth noting that minor leaguers are subject to testing for drugs of abuse while major leaguers are not. That makes this suspension all the more frustrating and tragic. It is a rule that at best does little to benefit minor leaguers, and, considering the legality of the drug in many of the states that MiLB teams operate, seems unnecessary or at least ill-conceived.
But the rule is there, and no player knows better than Filia of the consequences of breaking it. After his first suspension, the clock that was already ticking on the older-than-average prospect. Now, even as the No. 28 prospect on MLB Pipeline’s list and No. 25 on our list, Filia will be 27 without an at-bat above AA by mid-July when his suspension concludes. The Mariners are not a team with prospect depth to spare, but it’s hard to know if they’ll even retain Filia if they cannot count on him to be available to play. If Filia has the will to play, he has the talent to play in other leagues, but his chances of an MLB career have unfortunately trickled from slim to effectively none today.
For the rest of the organization, this will mean a slight shuffle. OF Tito Polo was likely to make the Tacoma roster already, but he seems all-but guaranteed to make AAA now. Depending on Joey Curletta’s health, Filia would’ve had a chance to play some 1B, which may now be taken by Austin Nola or even Joe DeCarlo. Regardlss, by all accounts Filia is well-liked and a supportive teammate, and for all involved we hope he can find the help he needs to be successful and happy.