After starting the season in a 1-for-11 funk, Brandon Marsh had nowhere to go but up.
The Angels' No. 5 prospect smashed two homers and drove in four runs while going 3-for-5 in Class A Burlington's 10-8, 10-inning loss to Dayton at Community Field. It was his fifth multi-hit effort in seven games.
Gameday box score
"I've started being aggressive," Marsh said, "just trusting myself and not trying to stress too much, if I have to do this or have to do that. We're all here for a reason, on both sides. Just don't panic, just manage and do what you do. I stopped overthinking it."
Marsh went yard in his first at-bat, crushing a line drive to left field off a fastball that scored Torii Hunter in the opening inning and gave the Bees a 2-1 lead. He singled to left in the second, then smacked his second dinger of the night in the fourth, again clearing the fence in left, this time off a changeup, to score Angels No. 15 prospect Leonardo Rivas for a 7-2 cushion.
"The guys in front of me have been producing. They're getting on base and putting the pitcher in stressful condition," Marsh said. "Early in the count, he wasn't locating, so late in the count he had to come at me. The guys in front of me put me in a good position."
Marsh hit two homers all of last season, with both coming in back-to-back contests on July 29-30.
After hitting .350 with Rookie-level Orem a year ago, the 2016 second-round pick made his Midwest League debut last month. Following the slow start, he hit in eight straight games. He ended April with a .299/.407/.448 slash line and started May with his second three-hit game of the season.
"I've been seeing a lot of off-speed [pitches]," Marsh said. "Coming from Rookie ball, the step up in competition, it means there's a little more movement. There's more velocity and they throw more off-speed pitches. They execute it a little bit better. They get smarter and better, and as hitters we also get smarter and better. It's been a new challenge."
Challenges are nothing new for Marsh. Drafted out of high school, a post-Draft exam revealed a stress fracture in his back that sidelined him for the 2016 season. He made his professional debut last June in the Pioneer League, where he played 39 games, and is looking to carry over the same results in his first full season.
"I'm getting my legs a little bit," he said. "There's been a few drills that every hitter does, but the biggest thing has been, 'Just be you, don't try to be Superman or step out of your element.' I'm just trying to keep it simple. It's just be you, not be someone else -- that's the entire focus. If you be you, the rest always takes care of itself."
Hunter and Spencer Griffin also picked up three hits apiece, while David MacKinnon hit a two-run blast for the Bees.
Reds No. 6 prospect Jeter Downs and 11th-ranked Jose Garcia went deep for the Dragons, who scored eight times over the final four innings. Mark Kolozsvary tied it with a sacrifice fly in the ninth and Garcia put Dayton ahead in the 10th with his first professional homer.
John Ghyzel (1-1) worked 1 1/3 scoreless frames for the win.