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OC Register: Brandon Marsh gets his chance with Angels after long year


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ANAHEIM ― Until Saturday, Brandon Marsh’s 2021 season consisted of one setback after another.

The 23-year-old outfielder began the year rehabilitating a shoulder labrum injury and did not debut with the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate until May. In the meantime, his father passed away after battling multiple cancers toward the end of his life. Jake Marsh Jr. was 50.

Brandon Marsh only played 16 games with Salt Lake before he was sidelined again due to right shoulder inflammation, ultimately taking a month to recover.

Finally healthy, Marsh needed only eight games at Triple-A to show the Angels why he was a consensus top-50 prospect in baseball. He went 13 for 36 with two home runs, lifting his batting average for the season to .255. Salt Lake manager Lou Marson called him early Saturday with the news every baseball player dreams of: Marsh had 24 hours to get himself ready for his big league debut.

“I thought it was Sunday and I was missing a day game,” Marsh told Bally Sports West before the Angels’ game against the Seattle Mariners. “I was freaking out. I called him back, and he told me to hurry up, get on a plane, ‘you’re going to the show, kid.’ (Saturday) was one of the best days ever.”

Marsh batted seventh on Sunday, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, and played an uneventful nine innings in center field in his major league debut. In his final at-bat, Marsh slapped a hard-hit ground ball to first base and was denied a hit when Ty France dove to stop the ball, then perfectly executed the relay toss to pitcher Drew Steckenrider.

“I thought he did well,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “I liked his swing a lot. He wasn’t tested in the outfield. You saw how well he ran to first base … Calm, even though he probably wasn’t. I liked the way he moved.”

Marsh said the gravity of the moment didn’t strike him until the game was over.

“When I was out there, I was treating it like a Salt Lake game, a regular game,” he said. “It was fast and lots of fun. No complaints.”

The Angels optioned Kean Wong to Triple-A Salt Lake to make room for Marsh on the active roster. Marsh had been selected to the 40-man roster last winter to prevent him from being taken in the Rule 5 draft.

The Angels’ second-round draft pick in 2016 out of Buford (Ga.) High School, Marsh figures to split time in center field with Juan Lagares until Mike Trout is activated from the injured list. Justin Upton is also on the 10-day IL with a back injury that’s taking longer than expected to heal.

If and when Trout and Upton return to health, the path to playing time for Marsh is not obvious. The Angels recently signed veteran Adam Eaton to bolster their outfield depth; Eaton started in right field Sunday.

Maddon said Marsh has a chance to remain on the major league roster for the remainder of the season.

“I want him to expect to stay here,” Maddon said.

By having 24 hours’ notice of his call-up, that allowed Marsh’s mother, Sonja and his sister, Erin, an accomplished pentathlete at Duke University, to attend his debut in person. Marsh said he had about eight family or friends among the crowd of 23,434 Sunday. Sonja Marsh brought a container bearing Jake Marsh’s ashes.

“We think he should be here,” she told BSW during the game.

Marsh said he didn’t know his father would be present until he met up with his mom and sister after the game.

“We had a really good moment together,” Marsh said. “It was really, really special.”

UP NEXT

Angels RHP Shohei Ohtani (4-1, 3.49 ERA) at Oakland LHP Cole Irvin (6-8, 3.65 ERA), 6:07 p.m. Monday, Bally Sports West, 830 AM

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