2008 Cardinals Caravan Report: Springfield

Reporter John Brayfield checks in from the St. Louis Cardinals Caravan stop in Springfield, MO.

Nothing chases away the "no baseball blues" better than a bus full of St. Louis Cardinals, especially when some of those players are from an era that is so vivid in my memory. I am talking about past Cardinal greats such as Jack Clark, Danny Cox and John Costello who were part of the Cardinals Caravan stop in Springfield on Friday, January 18. Along with those Cardinal icons were a group of young players ready to step in and take the places of exiting fan favorites David Eckstein, Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen.

One of those players in attendance who is ready to assume an increased role is former Springfield Cardinals infielder Brendan Ryan (pictured), the first position player from the 2003 draft class to make it to the majors. Pitchers Anthony Reyes and Dennis Dove were called up prior to Ryan's promotion.

In 2007, Ryan split his season between Triple-A Memphis and St. Louis. He saw his first major league action with the Cardinals in a game at Houston where he entered as a sub at shortstop in the seventh inning. In his first plate appearance, he grounded to short. Ryan made his first start on June 3, 2007 playing second base.

While at Memphis, Ryan hit .272 in 81 games with nine doubles, five triples, and one home run. He stole 17 bases and was caught six times. Ryan played all of his games in the field as a shortstop for Memphis.

With St. Louis, Ryan made 13 starts at second base, 18 at third base, and 12 starts at short. He had a .291 batting average and the Cardinals posted a 27-23 won-loss record in his starts. Ryan posted nine multi-hit games in his first 10 starts (batting .302 going 21-for-58, hitting three home runs, collecting eight RBI and scoring 12 times. His final batting average with the Cardinals was .289.

When asked about his readiness to play, Ryan said that he felt he had what it took to play at the major league level, and was looking to have his best year yet in 2008.

With Jim Edmonds gone, centerfield will be a position that will open a spot up for another Cardinal to get a chance to become a fan favorite. Two of those ready to wear that title are outfielders Skip Schumaker and Brian Barton.

Schumaker, a 27-year-old 5-foot-10, 195-pound outfielder who throws right handed and bats left, is from Torrance, California and was selected in the fifth round of the June 2001 draft as a free agent. In 2007, he made the opening day roster for St. Louis for the second straight year. Schumaker (pictured with a Children's Miracle Network child) led the team with 43 pinch-at-bat hits and collected hits in 22 of his 27 starts. He had a career best eight game hitting streak from September 16 through 23 and batted .400 in 49 games, from July 2 to the end of the season. Schumaker finished the month of July tied for second in NL batting going 20-for-46 and touting a batting average of .436. He also batted .415 with men in scoring position. On the last day of the 2007 season, he went 5-for-5 at Pittsburgh where he had two doubles and drove in two runs. Schumaker shared his 2007 playing time with Memphis where he batted .309 in 59 games playing the majority of his time in centerfield.

Brian Barton (pictured), an outfielder who was born in Los Angeles, California and attended college at the University of Miami (Florida), was acquired from the Cleveland organization during the off season and played his 2007 season at Akron AA and Buffalo AAA. The 6-foot-3, 187-pound right-hander finished the 2005 season ranked third in the Carolina League in triples. In 2006, he was first in slugging percentage at .515; and finished 2007 fifth in on-base percentage at .416 in first half and .314 in second half. Barton played three years in the Cleveland minor league system in A, Double A and Triple A. During his minor league career, he has a batting average of .317 in 354 games, and 1278 at bats, Barton logged 405 hits, with, 71 doubles, 12 triples, 36 home runs, 213 RBI, 152 base-on-balls and 82 stolen bases.

Ron Flores (being interviewed by radio voice John Rooney and watched intently by pitching coach Dave Duncan) was born in Whittier, California and attended college at USC. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound left-hander played his 2007 season at Triple-A Sacramento where he had an ERA of 3.57. Flores was drafted in the 29th round of the 2000 draft and signed with the Oakland Athletics on July 27, 2000. When called up to the majors as a relief pitcher in 2007 by Oakland, he ended the season with a win-loss record of 0-2, with no saves, in 17.2 innings pitched. His brother Randy Flores also pitches for St. Louis.

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