CLEVELAND — Cleveland Indians starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco has been named the winner of the 2019 Roberto Clemente Award.
Carrasco fought through a battle with chronic myeloid leukemia in the middle of the 2019 regular season, but always one to exhibit grace under pressure, he overcame the diagnosis, worked through minor-league rehabilitation appearances with the Akron RubberDucks and Columbus Clippers and returned to the Indians’ bullpen on September 1.
Carrasco is the third player in Indians history to win the Roberto Clemente Award, following in the footsteps of Hall of Fame slugger Jim Thome (2002) and Andre “Thunder” Thornton (1979). He received the trophy of Clemente's likeness during Game 3 of the World Series in Washington, D.C.
“Winning the Roberto Clemente Award is one of the most prestigious honors,” Carrasco said in a release announcing the award.
“This is something that I have dreamed of, and I am very excited to share this honor with the Cleveland Indians and my home country of Venezuela. I hope to continue giving back to others and inspire more players to help in the community.”
The Roberto Clemente Award is given annually to an MLB player who demonstrates the values of Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, sharing his commitment to the community and understanding the value of helping others.
The award was named in Clemente’s memory after he was killed in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1972 while trying to bring relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
While working through his own battle, Carrasco frequently visited patients from Cleveland Clinic Children’s who, like him, were fighting leukemia.
Also, after making his return to the Indians, Carrasco vowed to “punchout cancer” and donated $200 for every strikeout he had over the last month of the season.
“We are proud to welcome Carlos Carrasco to the prestigious fraternity of Roberto Clemente Award winners,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said. “The Roberto Clemente Award is the most important individual player award due to the genuine impact that Major League players have on those who are most in need. Carlos, through his global philanthropic efforts, is an excellent example of someone who selflessly acts on behalf of the less fortunate and embodies the spirit of our game’s most celebrated humanitarian.”
Vera Clemente added, “My family and I are proud to join Major League Baseball in bestowing this year’s Roberto Clemente Award to Carlos, who has consistently represented Roberto’s humanitarian legacy over the course of his wonderful career. Despite facing his own personal challenges, Carlos has remained committed to improving the lives of others.”
The most poignant moment of the 2019 MLB All-Star Game came after the fifth inning, during which fans and players alike participated in the “Stand Up 2 Cancer” ceremony, and it marked the return of Carrasco to the field after his leukemia diagnosis became public earlier this season.
Carrasco took the field with a sign that read “I Stand” and was did so while standing next to his four American League teammates, shortstop Francisco Lindor, closer Brad Hand, pitcher Shane Bieber and first baseman Carlos Santana as well as manager Terry Francona, all of whom held up signs of support bearing Carrasco’s nickname “Cookie.”
Before going on the injured list, Carrasco had a 4-6 record with a 4.98 earned run average over 12 starts. In 65.0 innings of work, Carrasco allowed 74 hits, 37 runs, 36 of which were earned, 14 home runs and 11 walks against 79 strikeouts.
Following his return to the team, Carrasco went 2-1 over 15.0 innings of work in 11 appearances out of the Indians’ bullpen. Additionally, Carrasco struck out 17 batters in those 15 innings.
During his 10-year tenure with the Indians, Carrasco has an 85-69 record with a 3.82 ERA over 230 games, including 183 starts. Over 1,174.1 innings of work, Carrasco registered 1,223 strikeouts against 1,110 hits and 498 earned runs allowed.