Former, future ‘Birds to be on hand for autograph session and pictures
By Michael Whitty Memphis Redbirds Media Relations
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The St. Louis Cardinals Caravan is scheduled to make its annual trip to Memphis and visit AutoZone Park on Friday, January 15. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with the event slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. in the newly-renovated Home Plate Club. A pair of former Redbirds All-Stars headline this year’s Caravan: 2015 Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year Stephen Piscotty and 2015 National League All-Star Michael Wacha. Cardinals alumni and Memphis fan-favorites Stubby Clapp, Bo Hart, and Jason Simontacchi will also join the Caravan, along with top prospects Patrick Wisdom and Carson Kelly. Players and alumni will discuss the past and upcoming season during a question and answer session emceed by Tom Ackerman, with youth autograph opportunities to follow. As in previous years, the Cardinals will implement an Autograph Ticket system. The first 400 children (ages 15 and under) through the door on the night 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 children ages 15 and under. Admission is free to attend the Cardinals Caravan program, which will offer first-come, first-served seating. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Piscotty enjoyed a breakthrough 2015 campaign, where he made his Major League debut and was named the Cardinals Minor League Player of the Year. The 24-year-old batted .305 (71-for-233) with seven home runs and 39 RBI in 63 games for St. Louis, while being a key contributor in the Cardinals’ Central Division Championship and Postseason run. The former first round pick played in a total of 223 games for Memphis over the last two seasons, and represented the Pacific Coast League in the 2014 Triple-A All-Star Game. Wacha was recognized as a National League All-Star in his third year in a Cardinals uniform last season, going 17-7 with a 3.38 ERA (68er/181.1ip) and 153 strikeouts in 30 starts. The right-hander made 15 starts for Memphis in 2013, going 5-3 with a 2.64 ERA (25er/85.0ip) and 73 strikeouts. That same season, the dominant Wacha represented the Redbirds on the Pacific Coast League Mid-Season All-Star team, where he was named the PCL’s Top Star in the Triple-A All-Star Game. Clapp, the legendary back-flipping infielder who won a Pacific Coast League Championship with Memphis in 2000, played for the Redbirds from 1999-2002 and Cardinals in 2001. He sits at the top of the Redbirds’ career leaders in walks and triples, while also ranking second in runs scored, and third in games played, at-bats, hits, doubles, extra-base hits, and total bases. Clapp most recently served as hitting coach for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. Hart played parts of four seasons in Memphis from 2003-06 and ranks among franchise career leaders in games played, hits, doubles, total bases, and runs scored. The second baseman also played two seasons for the Cardinals from 2003-04 and was named to the Topps Baseball Major League All-Rookie Team in 2003. Simontacchi (pronounced cy-mun-Tach-ee), who appeared for the Redbirds in 2002 and 2004, pitched in parts of three seasons for the Cardinals from 2002-04. He finished ninth in the National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2002, going 11-5 with a 4.02 ERA (64er/143.1ip) and 72 strikeouts. Simontacchi currently serves as pitching coach for the Double-A Springfield Cardinals. Wisdom spent the majority of last season with Double-A Springfield, hitting .237 (98-for-414) with 14 home runs, 20 doubles, and 61 RBI in 114 games. Following the season, the 24-year-old third baseman played for Surprise in the prospect-laden Arizona Fall League, where he was recognized as one of the league’s Top Prospects and Rising Stars. Kelly batted .219 (85-for-389) with eight homers, 18 doubles, and 51 RBI in 108 games for Advanced-A Palm Beach last season. The backstop also received the 2015 Rawlings Gold Glove Award® as the best defensive catcher in Minor League Baseball. This annual award recognizes defensive excellence and is given to each position among all qualifying players from the 10 domestic-based, full-season minor leagues. Kelly enters the upcoming 2016 season ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the Cardinals’ organization as ranked by Baseball America. Fans visiting the Cardinals Caravan at AutoZone Park who are on social media can follow the St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) and Memphis Redbirds (@memphisredbirds) on Twitter. Join the social conversation using #CardsCaravan. For more information, please call (901) 721-6000 or visit online at http://www.memphisredbirds.com.