Sunday Notes: Brandon Marsh Doesn’t Feel Special, But He’s Definitely Having Fun

Brandon Marsh has an engaging personality and an innate ability to square up baseballs. He also has untapped potential. Rated as the top prospect in the Los Angeles Angels system prior to last season, the bearded, 24-year-old outfielder is building on a 2021 rookie campaign that saw him put up an 86 wRC+ over 70 games. Logging regular playing time in a dynamic L.A. lineup — this within an MLB-wide environment that is evoking memories of 1968’s “Year of the Pitcher” — Marsh is currently slashing .253/.318/.453 with four home runs and a 127 wRC+.

His offensive profile is more table-setter than bopper. Describing himself as a “gap-to-gap, doubles guy,” Marsh explained that while he’ll run into a ball from time to time, home runs are accidents. Line drives are his goal, which is precisely what the Angels want from him — and have wanted since taking him in the second round of the 2016 draft out of a Buford, Georgia high school.

“They’ve preached for me to keep my hands above the ball, and not be getting underneath and scooping it,” explained Marsh, who is listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds. “That type of deal. I’m not a strong, strong guy. I’m tall, but the barrel tends to lag sometimes, so I really need to stay through, and on top of the ball.”

Marsh went on to say that he views himself as a scrappy player whose role is to grind and get on base in front of “a lot of special players.” And while it’s true that he’s not in the same class as teammates such as Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani, or Anthony Rendon, he nonetheless struck an excessively-humble tone when assessing his own talent level.

“God blessed me with with some abilities, but I definitely need to work my tail off,” said Marsh. “I wasn’t anything special coming out of high school, and I’m still not special. It still hasn’t come together for me. I think it’s starting to form into a pretty cool product, though. I just have to keep my head down and stay the course.”

What he won’t do is keep his head down in a hangdog manner. Much as I’d recently asked Alek Manoah if he considers pitching fun, I asked Marsh if he considers hitting fun.

“Oh, yeah,” responded the personable outfielder. “It’s a grind, for sure, but if you don’t love it… I mean, if you’re not having fun, laughing, smiling — but still working hard — it’s too many swings. It’s too much baseball. So, you have to enjoy it. It’s a 162-game season, minimum, and if you’re not having fun for 162 games, it’s going be brutal for you. You’ve definitely got to have some fun.”

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RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS

Birdie Tebbetts went 4 for 42 against Thornton Lee.

Robin Yount went 1 for 17 against Sid Monge.

Steve Garvey went 1 for 16 against Doug Bird.

John Lowenstein went 1 for 14 against Mark Fidrych.

Trevor Crowe went 1 for 12 against Rick Porcello.

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Jake Marisnick was a 21-year-old prospect in the Miami Marlins organization when I first interviewed him for FanGraphs back in 2012. He’s now playing for the Pittsburgh Pirates, his seventh organization since being drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays out of a Riverside, California high school in 2009. An outstanding defensive outfielder, he has 441 career big-league hits, including 61 home runs.

I mentioned our decade-old interview to Marisnick, and asked if he could have imagined his career path going as it has.

“I don’t know,” responded the now 31-year-old. “That’s a good question. When I look at where I’m at now, it’s been kind of a whirlwind. It’s been all over the place, career-wise.”

There have been highlights. Notable among them are his 2019 season, when he appeared in five World Series games with the Houston Astros. As for his having never quite lived up to his potential — he was highly-regarded as a farmhand — Marisnick isn’t dwelling in the past. He’s looking toward the future.

“As a baseball player, you’re never really satisfied,” said Marisnick, whom I saw make multiple good defensive plays — including a highlight-reel catch — on a recent visit to PNC Park. “You go out and put the work in, and you always strive to be better than what you are. I still view myself as having the same potential I did when I was younger. There’s always room for growth. That’s kind of the beast that keeps me going.”

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A quiz:

Mike Schmidt’s 4,004 total bases are the most in Philadelphia Phillies franchise history. Which former Phillie ranks second in that category?

The answer can be found below.

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NEWS NOTES

Dusty Baker got his 2,000th managerial win earlier this week and is currently 2,004-1,745 for his career. Now at the helm in Houston, Baker got his first win in 1993 with the San Francisco Giants.

Everett AquaSox [High-A Seattle Mariners] broadcaster Pat Dillon called his 2,000th game earlier this week. Dillon has been the radio voice of the Northwest League team since 1998.

Josh Reddick has signed with the Australian League’s Perth Heat. Cancelled last year due to the pandemic, the 2022-2023 ABL season is slated to begin in November.

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The answer to the quiz is Jimmy Rollins, with 3,655 total bases. Ed Delahanty ranks third, with 3,233.

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Watching the St. Louis Cardinals take batting practice a handful of years ago, I observed both Michael Wacha and Adam Wainwright propelling balls over the left field fence. While they weren’t exactly hitting moonshots, the memory — for whatever reason — has stuck with me. I mentioned it to Wacha on Thursday, then asked whether he or his former teammate is the better hitter.

“That’s a very easy one,” replied Wacha, who signed with the Boston Red Sox as a free agent this past offseason. “Wainwright is a much better hitter than I am. He’s got a Silver Slugger to his name. I’ve got an .089 batting average in my career.”

Wacha was slightly off on his batting mark — it’s actually .092 — but he was correct in his overall assessment. Along with the 2017 Silver Slugger, Wainwright boasts a .193 average, and he’s gone deep 10 times. Wacha doesn’t have a big-league home run, but again, he’s more than capable of clearing a fence during batting practice. How do the two compare in terms of BP power?

“I can maybe keep up with him every now and then, but that’s about it,” said Wacha. “He’s taller than I am, bigger than I am. I’m stronger, but his swing is a little more compact than mine, which projects a little bit further trajectory on the ball. He’s got some pop.”

Is it safe to say that Wainwright misses hitting more than his erstwhile rotation-mate does?

“That’s probably a fair assessment,” said Wacha. “For sure.”

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

The SofBbank Hawks won their 5,000th game in franchise history earlier this week. The Fukuoka-based club has an all-time record of 5,001-4,347-368.

Chunichi Dragons left-hander Yudai Ohno retired the first 29 batters he faced before losing a perfect game on a 10th-inning double in Friday’s 1-0 win over the Hanshin Tigers.

Masahiro Tanaka went eight strong innings and got the win when the Rakuten Golden Eagles beat the Nippon Ham Fighters 3-1 on Tuesday. The 33-year-old right-hander is 3-1 with a 1.46 ERA on the season.

Raidel Martínez has allowed one run over 12 innings in as many relief appearances with the Chunichi Dragons. The 25-year-old right-hander from Pinar del Rio, Cuba has surrended just four hits, and walked just one, with 16 strikeouts.

Ronnie Williams has a 1.71 ERA over 21 innings for the KBO’s Kia Tigers. A 2014 second-round pick by the St. Louis Cardinals, the 26-year-old right-hander spent last season in the San Francisco Giants system.

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Darrin Jackson faced a lot of pitchers during a playing career that spanned the 1985-1999 seasons. I asked the outfielder-turned-Chicago-White-Sox broadcaster which of them stands out as having been underrated.

Darryl Kile is a guy who, during his era, was one of the more dominant pitchers,” said Jackson. “He was a put-you-on-the-seat-of-your-pants curveball kind of guy who wasn’t necessarily considered Hall of Fame material, but there’s no question that he was one of nastiest, most difficult pitchers, to face — especially for right-handed batters. He had the curveball, and he also had a fastball with good running life. And he had some tenacity. He was not somebody that you wanted to look out at and try to visually intimidate. He was going to do the intimidating.”

Kile, who died tragically in 2002 at age 33, had two All-Star seasons with the Houston Astros, and another with the St. Louis Cardinals. Jackson went 2-for-14 against him, with three strikeouts.

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FARM NOTES

The best record in the minor leagues belongs to the Dayton Dragons. The Midwest League club — the High-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds — are 18-7.

Shane Sasaki has 20 stolen bases in as many attempts with the Low-A Charleston RiverDogs. Drafted 99th overall by the Tampa Bay Rays out of a Honolulu high school in 2019, the 21-year-old outfielder is slashing .267/.337/.295 in 95 plate appearances.

Darick Hall has 10 home runs and is slashing .292/.370/.655 in 127 plate appearances with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The 26-year-old left-handed-hitting first baseman was first featured here at FanGraphs in 2018.

Max Meyer has allowed 18 hits, and has 39 strikeouts, in 31-and-a-third innings with the Triple-A Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. Drafted third overall in 2020 by the Miami Marlins out of the University of Minnesota, the 23-year-old right-hander has a 1.72 ERA and 2.05 FIP.

Rodney Theophile has allowed 20 hits and three earned runs in 26 innings with the Low-A Fredericksburg Nationals. The 22-year-old Nicaraguan-born right-hander in the Washington system has issued five walks and logged 40 strikeouts.

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Kole Cottam is one of the more-intriguing under-the-radar prospects in the Red Sox system. Boston’s fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft, the 24-year-old catcher is slashing .302/.380/.429 with a 133 wRC in 71 plate appearances with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs. Moreover, he’s doing so with a defense-first approach.

“Developmentally, it’s about putting defense first,” Cottam said at the onset of the minor-league season. “It’s all about the pitcher. I’ve been working hard on everything since I got to pro ball, but I’m really focusing on my defense this year. I’ll let the hitting come. I know it will be there.”

Cottam considers framing to be one of his strengths, and like many catchers, he’s bought into a one-knee stance. He credits Red Sox catching coach Jason Varitek, and Sea Dogs manager Chad Epperson — a former catching coordinator — for much of his improvement behind the dish. And while defense is “at the forefront of [his] development,” he’s fully aware that good-hitting catchers are extremely valuable.

“I take pride in both,” explained Cottam, who slashed .326/.399.553 in three seasons at the University of Kentucky, and .278/.371/.500 with a 133 wRC+ last year between High-A Greenville and Double-A Portland. “I’m primarily focused on defense right now, but again, I think the hitting is going to be there.”

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LINKS YOU’LL LIKE

The Triple-A Worcester Red Sox hosted a Deaf and Hard of Hearing Awareness Night on April 29. Geoff Pontes wrote about it at Baseball America.

Viva El Birdo’s J.P. Hill explored Tommy Edman’s improved walk rate.

Austin Bechtold dug into Cole Tucker’s early-season struggles at Bucs Dugout.

Royals Review’s Bradford Lee looked back at former Kansas City manager Tony Muser.

At CBS Sports, R.J. Anderson wrote about how the 2003 Detroit Tigers — one of the worst MLB teams ever — are a lesson for rebuilding teams.

At SABR’s Baseball Card Blog, Tim Jenkins looked back at the first players to have DH listed as their primary position.

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RANDOM FACTS AND STATS

Zac Gallen has made 54 big-league starts. In 25 of them he has allowed two or fewer earned runs and gotten either a loss or a no-decision. On nine other occasions he’s allowed three earned runs without getting a win. Over his career, Gallen is 11-18 with a 131 ERA+.

The Red Sox have played six extra-inning games this season. They’ve lost all of them, one on the road and five at home.

Jackie Bradley Jr. is slashing .371/.421/.543 in 38 plate appearances at Fenway Park this season. He is slashing .083/.154/.124 in 53 plate appearances on the road.

Shelley Duncan played for the Cleveland Indians in 2010, 2011, and 2012. He had 11 home runs and 29 runs scored in each of those three seasons.

Miguel Cabrera stroked his 600th career double yesterday and now has 3,009 hits. Al Kaline had 3,007 hits, including 498 doubles.

Frank Thomas had 10,075 plate appearances and 2,468 hits.
Bobby Abreu had 10,081 plate appearances and 2,470 hits.

On today’s date in 1911, the Boston Rustlers beat the New York Giants 5-4. The team that became the Boston Braves the following year then lost 14 consecutive games, all of them at home.

On today’s date in 2012, Josh Hamilton went 5-for-5 with a double and four home runs as the Texas Rangers beat the Baltimore Orioles 10-3. Hamilton drove in eight, with all four of his homers coming with a man on.

Players born on today’s date include Lloyd Allen, whom the California Angels took 12th overall in the 1968 draft. A right-hander who went to pitch for three teams over seven big-league seasons, Allen finished 8-25 with 22 saves and a 4.69 ERA. He had 194 strikeouts and issued 196 walks.

Also born on today’s date was Chester Cornelius “Red” Hoff, who pitched for the New York Yankees from 1911-1913, and for the St. Louis Browns in 1915. A native of Ossining, New York, Hoff was 107 years, 4 months, 9 days old when he died in 1998.





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

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Michaelmember
9 days ago

Thank you so much David for the Sunday Notes. Look forward to the content which is always excellent. Well done once again.

yijod57088
9 days ago
Reply to  Michael

Thank you so much David for the Sunday Notes. Look forward to the content which is always excellent. Well done once again.