The learning curve for Brandon Marsh in his transition to the California League might have been steep, but he seems to be straightening it out.
The No. 4 Angels prospect tied his career high with four hits and drove in two runs in Class A Advanced Inland Empire's 7-6 loss to Lake Elsinore on Sunday afternoon at The Diamond. Marsh has racked up four multi-hit efforts in his last five games to raise his average 149 points to .222.
Gameday box score
Marsh kicked off his big day with a single to left field and promptly stole second in the top of the first inning. He opened the scoring in his next at-bat in the third with a single up the middle that plated DJ Jenkins and third-ranked prospect Jahmai Jones. Marsh singled to right in the fourth, grounded out in the sixth and beat out an infield single to second in the ninth. It marked his third career four-hit game and his first since last Aug. 13 with Rookie-level Orem.
"I'm just getting into the groove of things," he said. "I started off slow [in Class A Burlington] too. It's all about getting your feet wet and then moving forward. I haven't made any changes or anything like that. I'm just trusting in the process of what we do in the [batting] cage each day and then trying to take that into the game. If the pitcher throws it away, I'll go to left. If he throws it inside, I'll pull it. Hitting the ball where they throw it gives you the upper hand. It's something I want to make a key part of my game moving forward."
The 20-year-old began the season in the Midwest League, where he batted .295/.390/.470 with 16 extra-base hits and 24 RBIs in 36 games. After being promoted to Inland Empire on May 18, Marsh went 3-for-41 in his first 10 Cal League games. He's turned things around by going on a 11-for-22 tear with five RBIs. Overall, the Georgia native is hitting .272/.359/.400 in 49 games this season.
Marsh has battled injuries during his first two pro seasons. After the Angels selected him in the second round of the 2016 Draft, the club prohibited him from playing after a post-Draft medical report revealed a stress fracture in his lower back. He made his professional debut with Orem in the Pioneer League, but a sprained thumb put him on the disabled list for a month after just three games. He returned July 28 and finished the season as one of the circuit's top hitters after compiling a .350/.396/.548 slash line with 22 extra-base hits and 44 RBIs in 39 games.
"There are some days where I'm like, 'Wow, what am I doing at the plate?' But you just trust the process," Marsh explained. "The injuries certainly weren't fun, but you've got to get through them. It's a part of the game, so I try not to think of the past and just take things day by day. My goal is to stay healthy and play as many games this year as I can. That's my main focus. Keeping the body right, staying healthy and letting everything else fall into place."
Jones homered, doubled and drove in two runs for the 66ers, who led, 6-1, heading into the bottom of the fourth.
Padres No. 15 prospect Hudson Potts slugged a two-run homer and Buddy Reed stroked a walk-off single for the Storm in the ninth. Kelvin Melean doubled twice, including a leadoff knock in the ninth, before scoring the winning run.
Lake Elsinore relievers Austin Smith, Emmanuel Ramirez and Colby Blueberg (1-0) combined to allowed five hits and a walk with three strikeouts over 5 2/3 shutout frames. Starter Ronald Bolanos was charged with six runs -- four earned -- on six hits and two walks with a season-high seven punchouts in 3 1/3 frames.