TROY, NY - The Houston Astros announced their minor league field staffs for the 2017 season on Tuesday, and have named former Astros third baseman Morgan Ensberg the ValleyCats manager. Bill Murphy, coming off one season with Rookie-level Greeneville, will join the squad as the 'Cats pitching coach. In his first year in the Astros organization, Jeremy Barnes will serve as hitting coach, and Daniel Cerquera joins the 'Cats as Athletic Trainer.
Morgan Ensberg is the eighth manager in ValleyCats history. He takes over for Lamarr Rogers, who managed the 'Cats in 2016.
Ensberg returns to the Astros organization for his sixth season, and first as a manager. Last year, Ensberg was heavily involved in Houston's player development. He joined the professional coaching ranks in 2013 as infield coach at former Class-A Advanced Lancaster, where he helped lead the club to an 82-58 record and both the first and second half South Division titles in the California League.
The former third baseman played eight seasons in the Majors, which included his first seven seasons with the Astros (2000, 2002-07) and stints with the Padres (2007) and Yankees (2008). His best season came in 2005, where he was an All-Star and Silver Slugger, and finished fourth in the National League MVP voting after hitting .283 with 30 doubles, 36 homers, 101 RBI and a .945 OPS (.388 OBP/.557 SLG).
Following his playing career, Ensberg returned to the University of Southern California in 2010 to finish his degree in finance while also serving as an undergraduate assistant coach for the school's baseball team. He then moved on to be an assistant coach at the University of California, San Diego in 2012.
During his three-year playing career at USC, he hit .331 with 40 home runs and 149 RBI and is the only Trojan to have a 20-homer, 20-stolen base season. He was a member of two College World Series teams, including the 1998 National Championship squad.
Bill Murphy is set to join the Astros for his second season as pitching coach, and first with Tri-City. Before his season with Rookie-level Greeneville last year, Murphy was the pitching coach at Brown University following a stint as co-manager and pitching coach for the Northwoods Collegiate League Battle Creek Bombers.
In 2013, Murphy was a volunteer assistant coach at Georgetown University, and also coached in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League with the Rockville Express. From 2010-13, Murphy coached at Roselle Catholic High School, which included stints as the varsity pitching coach. Murphy graduated from Rutgers University in 2010 and was a pitcher on the baseball team for three years.
Jeremy Barnes, originally from Texas, has spent the last four years in Canberra, Australia where he was in charge of the overall development of amateur baseball and coaching development in the Australian Capital Territory for the Canberra Cavalry.
Barnes played four years at Notre Dame before he graduated with an anthropology degree in 2009 as a four-year starter and captain for the Fighting Irish. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 11th round, and got his start in professional baseball with the New York-Penn League's Williamsport Crosscutters. He guided the Lakewood BlueClaws to the South Atlantic League Championship in 2010, and the Canberra Cavalry to Australian Baseball League and Asia Series titles in 2013.
Though he never made the Major Leagues, Barnes made it as high as Triple-A ball. He was a two-time All-Star in the Phillies system and led the organization in doubles in 2010.
Following his stint in the Phillies system, Jeremy played internationally in the Australian Baseball League with the Canberra Cavalry (2012-13, 2013-14, and 2015-16) as well as with the New Jersey Jackals in the Can-Am Independent League.
The 'Cats home opener is set for Wednesday, June 21. The 2017 New York-Penn League All-Star Game will take place at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium on Tuesday, August 15. Season tickets, mini plans and flex vouchers for the ValleyCats 2017 All-Star Season are currently available for purchase online at tcvalleycats.com or by calling 518-629-CATS.