The Peoria Chiefs, St. Louis Cardinals and 1470 WMBD have announced that the 2014 Cardinals Caravan will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in East Peoria on Sunday, January 19 at 6:00 p.m. The Caravan will be hosted by 1470 WMBD and tickets for fans are $2.00 and available at the door. Proceeds benefit the Oldtimers Baseball Association.
The attendees will be top Cardinals prospect Oscar Taveras, left-handed pitcher Kevin Siegrist, Chiefs pitching coach Jason Simontacchi, former Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin, minor league infielder Greg Garcia, and emcee Dan McLaughlin, the Cardinals broadcaster for Fox Sports Midwest.
Taveras, 21, is widely regarded as the Cardinals #1 position-player prospect despite being limited to just 47 games in 2013 due to injuries. In those 47 games he hit .310 with five home runs, 12 doubles, 32 RBI and 25 runs scored. Taveras hit .321 for Double-A Springfield in 2012 with 23 home runs and 94 RBI in 124. As a 19-year-old, Taveras hit a league-best .386 in 78 games for Quad Cities in 2011 with 27 doubles, five triples, eight homers and 62 RBI while leading the River Bandits to the Midwest league Championship. Overall in 309 MiLB games, Taveras is batting .332 with 44 homers, 233 RBI, 91 doubles and 15 triples.
Siegrist, 24, made his Major League debut on June 6 and was a strong part of the Cardinals bullpen down the stretch with a 0.45 ERA in 45 games. He was 3-1 with 50 strikeouts and 18 walks in 39 2/3 innings in the regular season. Siegrist threw nine times in the playoffs with a 3.00 ERA and three strikeouts over six innings of work. Overall Siegrist held opponents to a .128 batting average in his first MLB season and lefties hit just .118 against the former 41st round draft pick. Siegrist pitched in 87 minor leagues games with 49 starts from 2008 - 2013 going 22-11 with a 2.77 ERA. He was 8-1 with a 1.15 ERA in nine outings for Quad Cities in the Midwest League in 2011 including a win at Dozer Park on May 18.
Garcia, 24, hit .271 with 23 doubles, 35 RBI and 50 runs scored in 116 games for Triple-A Memphis in 2013. A seventh round pick in 2010 out of Hawaii, Garcia was college teammates with Cardinals rookie second baseman Kolten Wong. Garcia hit .284 in 2012 for Double-A Springfield with 10 homers, 20 doubles and 51 RBI. He began the 2011 season in the Midwest League with Quad Cities and hit .273 in 46 games before earning a promotion to Palm Beach.
Simontacchi was on the Caravan last season and is returning for his second season as the Chiefs pitching coach after guiding the 2013 Peoria staff to a 3.54 ERA, second in the league and a new team record in strikeouts. As a Major Leaguer, Simontacchi was 26-17 with a 5.09 ERA in 96 games and 53 starts between 2002 and 2007. Simontacchi made his MLB debut on May 4, 2002 and finished the 2002 season with an 11-5 record and a 4.02 ERA in 24 starts as the Cardinals won the NL Central. Simontacchi finished ninth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.
Franklin is beginning his third season as a member of the Cardinals front office, serving as a Special Assistant to General Manager John Mozeliak. Franklin pitched the final five years of his 10-season career with the Cardinals and retired with 84 saves, the fifth most in team history. He pitched in 532 MLB games with 100 career starts and a 62-76 record over 1201 innings. He helped the Cardinals to the playoffs in 2009 with 43 saves and a 1.92 ERA while being named to the National League All-Star Game. Franklin pitched in the Midwest League in 1994 with the Appleton Foxes (now Wisconsin Timber Rattlers) going 9-6 with a 3.13 ERA in 18 starts.
McLaughlin, a St. Louis native has broadcasted Cardinals baseball for 16 seasons on Fox Sports Midwest. An Emmy Award winner for outstanding play-by-play, McLaughlin has called a variety of sports for ESPN, FOX, FOX College Sports and served as a studio host of St. Louis Blues hockey on both radio and television broadcasts.
The doors will open at 5:30 p.m. and the players and coaches will sign autographs before taking questions from fans. In a new autograph policy implemented by the Cardinals in 2013, the first 400 kids 15 and under through the door will receive one autograph per player.