Career Profile: Mark Ellis
One of my favorite players over the last decade has been Mark Ellis of the Oakland Athletics. He was never considered a hot prospect, but he's had a successful. Here is a Career Profile.
A native of Rapid City, South Dakota, Mark Ellis went to college at the University of Florida, where he was a successful starting infielder for three seasons. The Royals drafted him in the ninth round in 1999. He hit .327 in 71 games for short-season Spokane in his pro debut. His strike zone judgment was excellent: 47 walks, 40 strikeouts in 281 at-bats, a terrific BB/K/AB ratio. I gave him a Grade C in the 2000 book, although nowadays he would have earned at least a C+. I didn't pay as much attention to BB/K/AB back then.
Moved up to Wilmington in the Carolina League in 2000, he hit .301/.404/.411 with 25 steals. Not awesome power numbers, but again his strike zone judgment was excellent, and his overall OPS of .815, 15 percent better than the league average, was superb considering the extreme pro-pitching nature of the Wilmington park. I gave him a Grade C+ in the '01 book. Nowadays I would probably have him at B-. His main flaw at this point was age-relative-to-league, being 23 years old with no experience above A-ball.
Ellis went to Oakland in January of 2001, as a throw-in part of the Johnny Damon trade that sent Angel Berroa to Kansas City. Although the Royals liked Ellis' bat, they didn't think he had the range to play shortstop at the major league level, and they had other guys they liked better at second base. Oakland also liked him because of his bat, and were impressed enough with his glovework to jump him all the way to Triple-A in '01. He did OK, hitting .273/.351/.417, continuing to show impressive plate discipline. He rated Grade C+ entering 2002.
Ellis played 98 games for Oakland in 2002 at age 25, hitting .272/.359/.394, 103 OPS+, with strong defense. He missed all of 2004 with injury, but returned in '05 to hit .316/.384/.477, 127 OPS+, WAR 4.4, at age 28, his best overall season. Since then he's been up-and-down offensively, showing considerable pop at times (19 homers in '07) and good contact hitting skills, but with some swings in batting average and OBP. He was very solid in 2010 at age 33 (.291/.358/.381, 102 OPS+), but is hitting just .185/.215/.266 this year.
Injuries have been a problem and he's not durable, but he's got a decent stick and an excellent glove. Overall, he's a career .265/.332/.399 hitter, 95 OPS+, WAR 20.5. A great deal of his value has come from his defense; Fielding RAA loves him.
Most Similar Player through age 33: Tony Bernazard, Mike Lansing, Don Hoak, Mariano Duncan, Vance Law, Phil Garner, Bobby Avila, Jim Davenport, Tim Teufel, and Billy Cox.
No superstars in this group, but some very solid middle infielders. Ellis' career has been a very good outcome for a ninth-round pick. Mark Ellis: 20.5 WAR. Angel Berroa: 0.4 WAR.