Braves' Schafer denies using HGH

Jordan Schafer, one of the top prospects in the Atlanta Braves' system, has ended his silence about his controversial 50-game drug suspension last season, telling reporters that he never took HGH but saying his punishment was deserved.

Schafer said he's guilty of hanging around the wrong people.

"I've never failed a test. I've taken 20 drug tests, and I've never failed one. I didn't take anything," Schafer said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Schafer did not test positive for HGH. Rather, he was suspended after Major League Baseball probed anecdotal evidence of HGH use by Schafer, two sources familiar with Schafer's case told ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney last year.

Human growth hormone is a banned substance under the current drug-testing agreement between the owners and players, but the sport, like other professional sports leagues in the U.S., does not test for HGH.

But Major League Baseball does have the authority within the agreement to pursue specific information about possible violations. Schafer was the first casualty of MLB's new Department of Investigations.

"I know that I deserved what I got and that 100 percent, I was wrong. I was involved with people that 100 percent I shouldn't have been involved with," Schafer said, according to MLB.com. "Those people that I was involved with aren't going to get suspensions from baseball. Those people can get in trouble with the law and the government. My suspension was a lot less harsh of a punishment than they could have received. I definitely learned to choose who I hang around with and who I trust."

Last April, Schafer said he couldn't comment on the suspension.

"It might come out one day but as far as right now, it sucks, but I'm stuck in a spot where I have to say no comment and move on," Schafer said then, according to the Journal-Constitution. "It's a lot more complicated than people think."

Schafer enjoyed a meteoric rise through the Braves' system in 2007, a year after hitting .240 in Class A ball. He led the minor leagues with 176 hits in 136 games for the Braves' Class A teams in Rome and Myrtle Beach, batting .312 with 74 extra-base hits. He went from the 27th-ranked prospect in the Braves' system to the club's No. 1 prospect. Before last season's suspension, he was projected to arrive in the Braves' big-league outfield in 2009.

Schafer batted .269 with 10 home runs and 51 RBIs last season in Double-A after returning from the suspension. He'll attempt to make the Braves' Opening Day roster in spring training but might be opening 2009 in Triple-A.