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Prospect Retro: Morgan Ensberg

Morgan Ensberg (AP)

Prospect Retrospective: Morgan Ensberg

Morgan Ensberg was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 9th round of the 1998 draft, out of USC. Assigned to Auburn in the New York-Penn League, he hit .230/.379/.367 in 59 games, showing excellent plate discipline, but otherwise not doing much. He was a successful player in college, but scouts weren't particularly wild about him. His athleticism was marginal, he was a senior, and there was doubt about his ability to hit well with wood. He'd rate a Grade C at this point.

Moved up to the Florida State League in 1999, Ensberg hit just .239. But he did knock 15 homers and draw 68 walks, pushing his other numbers to .347 OBP and .412 SLG. He also stole 17 bases despite a lack of great running speed. The only real negative here was a low batting average; he showed progress in other departments. He'd still rate as Grade C, albeit with some intriguing potential.

Ensberg broke out with an excellent season in 2000, hitting .300/.415/.545 with 28 homers and 92 walks for Double-A Round Rock. This would move him up to Grade B, maybe even B+ if you weren't concerned about his age (24). His batting average improved as he continued to refine his plate discipline, and he also showed progress on defense.

Injuries limited Ensberg to just 87 games at Triple-A New Orleans in 2001, but he continued to play well, hitting .310/.399/.592 with 23 homers. He was a bit more aggressive at the plate, reducing his walk rate but increasing his power output. Ensberg split '02 between Houston and New Orleans, playing well in the minors but not so well in the Show. He had a fine 25-homer season in '03, a mediocre campaign in '04, and is having an excellent year in '05.

Ensberg's minor league career was marked by high walk rates without horrible strikeout numbers, and improving power production at each level. Negatives were age-relative-to-league, an artifact of being a college senior, and low batting averages in his first year and a half. He was never praised as a particularly toolsy player, but through hard work and refinement he has turned himself into one of the better third basemen in the game. Given his age, he is unlikely to show further dramatic improvement, but he doesn't really need to.

Comparable Players to Morgan Ensberg, No Actives Listed

Chris Sabo
Kelly Gruber
Scott Brosius
Jim Morrison
Dave Hollins
Sean Berry

Active comparables include Corey Koskie.

Ensberg is an excellent player right now. The only question I have is how well he will age once he gets to age 32 or so.