Coming into the 2021 season, Brandon Marsh was listed as the No. 1 Prospect in the Angels farm system, on the cusp of making MLB dreams come true. After batting .286 with 1 RBI and two triples in 12 spring training games, Marsh was assigned to Triple-A Salt Lake to begin the year. He battled right shoulder inflammation, which landed him on the Injured-List from June 5 - July 9, however, he made the most of his time at the highest minor league level. In 24 games, Marsh batted .255 with 3 HR, 8 RBI, 5 Doubles, 3 Triples and 26 Runs.
Brandon Marsh with a solo HR for the Salt Lake Bees pic.twitter.com/A6cS7WoLo3— Angels MiLB (@AngelsMiLB) July 17, 2021
Marsh’s call up came as a surprise to many Angels fans since there were no rumors of his debut being imminent. Even though he went 0-for-4 in his Major League debut against the Seattle Mariners on July 18, he cracked the scorebook the very next night in Oakland. The Buford, GA native picked up his first career hit in the second inning off left-hander Cole Irvin, then drove in his first career run in the ninth inning to get the Angels on the board. Marsh finished 3-for-4 with an RBI double, showing he was the perfect fit to remain in centerfield for the remainder of the season due to the season-ending calf injury to Mike Trout.
Following a sluggish July, Marsh came out of his shell in August to the tune of a .309 Batting Average (ranked 1st on the team), 1 HR, 11 RBI, 5 Doubles, 2 Triples and 9 Walks. He lifted his overall batting average from .154 to .279 and put together a quality road trip that seemingly turned his season around. From August 17 - 26, the Halos hit three cities in nine days (Detroit, Cleveland and Baltimore) and Marsh ripped a .400 average (14-for-35) with 2 Doubles, 2 Triples and 11 RBI. During this stretch, a very memorable achievement took place at Camden Yards in Baltimore on August 25:
The first Major League career home run for Brandon Marsh! pic.twitter.com/ZOYYxpYDmr— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) August 26, 2021
September and October were nothing crazy to speak about at the plate for Marsh, but his defense spoke volumes for the type of player he is today. His speed, athleticism and coverage in the outfield anchored the defense when the corner outfield position players shuffled on a game-by-game basis due to injuries and matchups. With a total of 568 innings played in centerfield, Marsh delivered a .994 Fielding Percentage (1 Error in 156 total chances), while recording one assist as well.
2021 STATS & ACCOMPLISHMENTS
70 Games / 236 AB / .254 Avg. / .317 OBP / .356 SLG / .672 OPS / 60 H / 2 HR / 19 RBI / 27 R / 12 2B / 3 3B / 20 BB / 6 SB
- Major League Debut on July 18 versus Seattle Mariners
BEST OFFENSIVE PERFORMANCE
For a rookie, there are many firsts in your career, but your first home run is a memory that will last forever. August 25 against the Orioles got off to a rough start as the Angels fell behind early 2-0. In the second inning, Marsh put the team on his back and tied things up with a line drive single into right field, scoring Jose Iglesias and Max Stassi. The combination of Marsh, Iglesias and Stassi would strike again in the fourth inning when the childhood dream of crushing a home run in a Major League park became a reality. The three-run home run into left field not only extended the Angels lead to 6-2, but also gave the rookie 5 RBI, which would end up being his personal best for a single game in the 2021 season. Unfortunately, the Angels bullpen collapsed and the team fell in defeat to the O’s by the final score of 10-6.
Honorable Mention: August 19 @ Detroit
Marsh connected on two triples at Comerica Park (3 RBI performance), which was the first time an Angels batter had multiple triples in one game since Erick Aybar in 2011. This was the afternoon the Angels scored 11 runs in the final four innings to complete a miraculous 12-10 comeback win against the Tigers that once had them trailing 10-2.
BEST DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE
Flashing the leather is familiar territory for the 23-year-old outfielder. On August 8 in the series finale against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Chavez Ravine, Marsh went head-to-head against the bright sunny sky and won the battle. In the bottom of the second, Max Muncy turned on a Reid Detmers fastball, lining it deep into center field, but Marsh completed a terrific leaping over the shoulder grab to prevent an extra-base hit. Even with the 104.9 MPH exit velocity off the bat of Muncy, the “Caveman” took the best route possible to his left and tracked the ball down at the base of the track.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2022
Have no fear, Marsh is here! Under club control courtesy a rookie contract ($575,000), Marsh looks to factor in the Angels outfield plans for 2022 and beyond. The real question will be, when Mike Trout, Jo Adell and Justin Upton all come back healthy, what will the defensive alignment be and who will be the odd man out? If Marsh gets the opportunity for a plethora of playing time, it would be best for him to bat at the bottom third of the batting order. With the Angels having a top heavy lineup in theory (1-5: Fletcher, Ohtani, Trout, Rendon, Walsh), Marsh would present balance and on-base opportunities that could be beneficial when the lineup comes back to the top in the middle to late stages of the game.
In preparation for 2022, the best thing for Marsh to work on would be limiting the amount of swings to balls outside of the zone. As a left-handed batter, it is natural for him to feast on upper-inside pitches that can be pulled into right field especially since he pulls the ball at a 32.7% rate. If he lets pitches get deeper in the zone, he can take advantage of the shift by slapping the ball through the left side (or pulling down for a bunt) for extra on-base opportunities. The more time Marsh gets at playing the outfield and digging in at the plate, the stronger his game will develop, especially at his young age and the veteran presence he has at his disposal in the clubhouse.