Marsh lifts Halos with HR off 101 mph heat

September 16th, 2021

CHICAGO -- Had it not been for an early season injury to Mike Trout, might not have been at the plate when the seven-spot was due up in the Angels’ batting order in the top of the eighth inning on Wednesday night.

Marsh found himself heading to the plate to face White Sox reliever Michael Kopech with two outs and nobody on base in a tied ballgame. Marsh worked a 1-1 count on sliders, then he flailed on a four-seamer and took two more fastballs for balls. With a full count, Marsh stepped in for one last pitch against Kopech.

The Halos' top prospect entering 2021 launched Kopech's 100.8 mph fastball a Statcast-projected 108.9 mph off the bat, depositing it 401 feet over the left-center-field wall. Marsh’s second home run of the season -- and of his big league career -- ended up being the game-winner as the Angels pulled out a 3-2 win over the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“I was talking to a couple of guys about it. It was a first-time moment like this for me, and it was special,” Marsh said. “It was fun. It was fun to be a part of.”

Not only did Marsh’s homer make the difference, but it also gave him an accomplishment nobody else in the American League can claim this season: It was the hardest pitched ball to be hit for a home run in the AL this season.’s Sarah Langs also notes it was the fastest pitch an Angels player has homered off of in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008).

The home run capped off a 3-for-4 night -- Marsh's first three-hit game in September and sixth of the season -- and came just two innings after he smoked a 101.7 mph single to right field. Marsh has shown the ability to hit the ball hard -- his max exit velocity ranked in the 87th percentile coming into Wednesday's game -- but a 39.4 percent whiff rate doesn't always give him the opportunity to show off his pop.

“When he hits the ball, he hits it hard,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He seems to be a little streaky with that. When he starts to make hard contact, it comes in droves, it seems.”

But that streakiness is all part of the development of MLB Pipeline’s preseason No. 53 overall prospect, who is also trying to fill the hole that Trout left behind four months ago.

Marsh has started 49 games in center since his callup, but he’s only taken 176 at-bats. So while he’s still learning the big league game, Maddon sees Marsh continuing to take steps forward as he gets more time.

“My take that I've seen so far, yeah, he has some swing and miss in him, but he'll get over that,” Maddon said. “When he makes contact, it's normally at really high RPMs off the bat, and that's what you saw. He had a good night. He was seeing the ball well, he had good at-bats, he found the barrel and I think he'll eventually get beyond that.

“For now, it's part of his development. The guy's not had that many at-bats this year.”

It does help that Marsh has Trout firmly in his corner, too.

Maddon mentioned that Trout is one of Marsh’s biggest supporters, and Marsh said the three-time AL MVP has helped him out a lot on the mental side of being in the Major Leagues.

“I mean, we're all here because we can physically do the job, but what separates people is the mental part of the game,” Marsh said. “He's been aiding that part of my game day in and day out, and I'm super appreciative of it, thankful for it.”

Even though the Angels’ playoff hopes have to wait until 2022, Maddon thinks the moments that young players like Marsh are having now will pay off in the future.

“I think you want to believe that the young player is going to grow from that,” Maddon said. “You'd rather see it sooner than later, but regardless, this is something he will dwell on when things shut down for the year, and now he knows he can do it.”