Philadelphia Phillies up-and-coming minor league pitcher Corey Phelan passed away this week at the age of 20 following a battle with cancer.
The New York native jumped straight to the major leagues out of high school, signing with the team as an undrafted free agent in 2020. Two years later, in April 2022, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
“The Phillies family is extremely saddened by the tragic passing of Corey Phelan,” the team said in a statement. “Corey’s positive presence and selflessness influenced everyone around him. While he was incredibly passionate about the game of baseball, his love for his family and his strong faith superseded everything else. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, as well as his teammates and staff who were by his side, providing emotional support throughout the course of his courageous battle with cancer.”
Preston Mattingly, the team’s director of player development, said in a statement, “Corey is and will always be a special person. His smile lit up a room and everyone who came in contact with him cherished the interaction. His memory will live on, especially with the Phillies organization.”
“We are saddened by the passing of Corey Phelan, a prospect in the Phillies organization,” Minor League Baseball said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with Corey’s family, friends and teammates.”
We are saddened by the passing of Corey Phelan, a prospect in the Phillies organization.
Our thoughts are with Corey's family, friends and teammates. pic.twitter.com/cBuuTdpucM
— Minor League Baseball (@MiLB) October 14, 2022
Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto responded to the news before team’s game Friday against the Atlanta Braves.
“He was always so positive even with everything he was going through,” Realmuto said. “He just brought light to our clubhouse. We got to pray with him a few times, and his faith was pretty inspiring for a lot of us. He definitely touched a lot of hearts in that clubhouse. And we’re going to miss him dearly.”
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer that starts in the lymphatic system, causing abnormal growth of lymphocyte white blood cells that can turn into tumors throughout the body, according to the Mayo Clinic. Systems of the disease included swollen lymph nodes, persistent fatigue, fever, pain, trouble breathing, night sweats, and abnormal swelling.
Phelan received radiation treatment for the disease at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York and had posted on social media as recently as a couple of weeks ago that he was looking forward to getting back to playing baseball.