Jack Flaherty to Highlight 2019 Cardinals Caravan in Springfield
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - The St. Louis Cardinals Caravan is making its annual trip to Springfield on Friday, January 18. The Caravan will be held at Hammons Field in the Indoor Training Facility and is scheduled to start at 12:15 pm with doors opening at 11:45 am.
This year's attendees will feature current St. Louis Cardinals and former Springfield Cardinals RHP Jack Flaherty, as well as current St. Louis Cardinals INF Yairo Munoz and RHP Dominic Leone and 11th-ranked Cardinals prospect INF Max Schrock. Former St. Louis Cardinals Kyle McClellan and Randy Flores will also be a part of the Caravan. KMOX's Mike Claiborne, the host of "This Week in Cardinal Baseball," and Cardinals Spanish play-by-play broadcaster Polo Asencio will serve as emcees for the event.
Admission for the Cardinals Caravan is $5 for adults and $3 for kids (ages 3-12). All admission proceeds will benefit the Children's Miracle Network. Lunch will be available for purchase at the event.
Coinciding with the afternoon program at Hammons Field, the Springfield Cardinals will have a Garage Sale featuring jerseys, helmets, bats and many other Cardinals collectibles used by some of your favorite players here in Springfield.
In addition to appearing at Hammons Field in the afternoon, the Caravan will also visit kids at Mercy and Cox South Hospitals.
On Friday evening, the Caravan will continue on to JQH Arena for the Bass Pro Shops Tournament of Champions, presented by Chevy Dealers of the Ozarks, where the players and Cardinals staff will sign autographs. A ticket to the Tournament of Champions will be required to attend the evening autograph session at JQH Arena, and times for the signing will be announced at a later date.
As in previous years, the St. Louis Cardinals will be implementing an Autograph Ticket system at each stop of the Caravan. The first 400 kids (15 and under) through the door on the day of the event will receive a free Autograph Ticket which guarantees one autograph from each current and former player. Due to high demand, autographs will only be available for fans 15 and under.
Additionally, the Cardinals and Missouri Farm Bureau Insurance are teaming up to fight local hunger. Fans at select Caravan stops can bring a non-perishable food donation to help those in need through Feeding Missouri's fine partners. Donations will be collected at all seven Missouri stops and the Quincy, Ill. stop.
A season before finishing fifth in National League Rookie of the Year voting, Flaherty opened the 2017 season in Springfield by posting a 1.42 ERA and a 7-2 record over 10 starts. Flaherty, who struck out 62 in 63.1 innings with Springfield, earned Texas League Pitcher of the Week (4/23/2017) and MiLB.com Texas League Player of the Month (4/2017) honors before earning the call to Triple-A Memphis. Flaherty was later named to the Texas League Post-Season All-Star team. That dominance continued with the Redbirds in 2017, and Flaherty debuted with St. Louis on September 1, 2017. After starting the 2018 season in Memphis, he again got the call to St. Louis and stuck, delivering a 3.34 ERA and 182 strikeouts (151.0 IP) over 28 starts.
Munoz was a key piece of the trade that sent Stephen Piscotty home to Oakland on Dec. 14, 2017. After a strong showing in Spring Training last season, Munoz earned a spot on the Cardinals Opening Day roster. The 23-year-old infielder responded with a .276/.350/.413 line with eight home runs and 16 doubles in 108 games, driving in 42 RBIs and scoring 39 runs. Munoz did appear for two games in Springfield during an August rehab assignment, doubling and scoring in his second start.
Appearing in 29 games out of the bullpen in his first season with St. Louis was Leone, who made his way to the Cardinals in the January 19, 2018 deal that sent Randal Grichuk to the Blue Jays. Leone burst onto the scene as a rookie with Seattle in 2015 (2.17 ERA, 66.1 IP) before making stops in Arizona and Toronto on his way to St. Louis. Leone finished the 2018 season with a 4.50 ERA and 26 strikeouts (24.0 IP).
The Piscotty trade didn't end with Munoz, also bringing Schrock over from Oakland. A 24-year-old infielder, Schrock spent the 2018 season with the Pacific Coast League champion Memphis Redbirds, hitting .249 over 114 games. Schrock batted .321 with the Double-A Midland RockHounds in 2017 and finished the 2016 season with a .331 average over four levels of the minor leagues with the Athletics. He's a two-time Mid-Season All-Star (2016: South Atlantic League; 2017: Texas League), a 2017 Post-Season All-Star (Texas League) and a 2017 MiLB.com Organization All-Star (Oakland).
McLellan and Flores both bring extensive experience to the Caravan roster. McClellan, who made 17 starts during the Cardinals Championship Season in 2011, suited up with St. Louis from 2008-2012 and logged a 19-23 record with a 3.69 ERA through 261 appearances. Flores, the current assistant general manager and director of scouting for the Cardinals, appeared in 236 games for St. Louis out of the bullpen over five seasons (2004-08), including tossing 5.2 scoreless innings during the 2006 Championship Postseason.
A long-time familiar voice on the St. Louis sports scene, Claiborne has been a part of the Cardinals Radio Broadcast team for over 10 seasons, where his work includes hosting the Cardinals pre-game show, play-by-play and Star of the Game. His career in St. Louis began with KMOX in February of 1981, giving him nearly 40 years of experience in St. Louis.
For over a decade now, Ascencio has covered sporting events ranging from the World Baseball Classic to college football to international soccer. Now, for the past three seasons, he's been the Cardinals Spanish broadcaster. Born and raised in Tijuana, Mexico, Ascencio became the first Spanish play-by-play broadcaster in St. Louis Cardinals history in a game against the Cincinnati Reds that ended in a Yadier Molina walk-off single.
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