Former Phillies prospect Carlos Carrasco, who has recently dealt with a cancer diagnosis, has been named American League Comeback Player of the Year.
Amid Philadelphia Phillies news on Wednesday that they have signed right-hander Zack Wheeler and remain engaged in talks with free-agent infielder Didi Gregorius, one of the organization’s former right-handed pitching prospects earned league-wide recognition.
The Cleveland Indians’ Carlos Carrasco, a former Phillies international prospect who played in their minor-league system from 2004 to 2009, has been named American League Comeback Player of the Year. Rumored Phillies free-agent target Josh Donaldson was the National League recipient of the award.
Earlier this offseason, Carrasco also earned the 2019 Roberto Clemente Award for his high character and community involvement.
Carrasco, 32, is a 10-year veteran that has played all of his 230 career appearances and 183 starts with the Indians since making his debut in 2009. Over this stretch, the right-hander has gone 85-69 with a 3.82 ERA, 1.196 WHIP and 1,223-294 strikeout-to-walk ratio spanning 1,174 1/3 innings.
The Phillies dealt Carrasco to Cleveland in July 2009, along with Jason Knapp, Jason Donald and Lou Marson, in exchange for Ben Francisco and reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee.
Carrasco has been a mainstay in the Indians’ rotation since 2015, as entering this past season, he threw no fewer than 25 starts in any season.
The Comeback Player of the Year Award is usually awarded to a player who has had a strong season following a serious injury, but in Carrasco’s case it is to recognize his fortitude and willingness to push forward despite being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in May.
In September, Carrasco penned an article on The Players Tribune titled, “I May Have Cancer, But Cancer Doesn’t Have Me,” writing:
I’m back to feeling 100%. I’m more optimistic than ever. And thanks to this incredible city, and the people of Cleveland who have showed me so much love, and the doctors and caregivers who oversaw my recovery, I can say for certain that I’m not going anywhere.
I’m gonna be just fine.
One of the most memorable moments of the 2019 season was during the All-Star Game in Cleveland, as Major League Baseball invited Carrasco to appear for the Stand Up To Cancer ceremony.
Carrasco’s leukemia, thankfully, is a treatable form of the disease; he appeared in 12 games from the onset of the 2019 season through the end of May, and did not return to action until September, solely as a reliever. He finished the season with a 6.60 ERA spanning 11 appearances and 15 innings; two of those outings came against the Phillies, in which he combined to throw four scoreless innings with just one hit and one walk allowed while striking out three batters.
Carrasco is signed with the Indians through the 2022 season, and has a $14 million team option and $3 million buyout for 2023.
Given what he has faced in just a short amount of time, it is hard to think of a player more deserving of a 2019 “Comeback” Award than Carrasco.