Angels’ Brandon Marsh finally got the call, even if he missed it at first

Los Angeles Angels' Brandon Marsh talks with the media before his debut game against the Seattle Mariners before a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Sunday, July 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Angels outfielder Brandon Marsh speaks with the media before making his major league debut on Sunday. (Alex Gallardo/Associated Press)

Brandon Marsh woke up in a panic Saturday night.

His hotel phone was ringing. There were several missed calls on his cell. At first, he was afraid he’d overslept and missed a triple-A game on Sunday afternoon.

But then he looked at the clock, returned the missed calls and soon found out he needed to get on a plane instead.

For the first time in his career, Marsh was being called up to the majors.

“It was one of the best calls I’ve ever received,” he said.

In his MLB debut Sunday, Marsh went hitless while starting in center field during the Angels’ 7-4 loss to the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium. He struck out a couple of times, flied out to center and was narrowly out on a grounder to first in his final at-bat.

But after the game, he came away smiling, having finally reached the big leagues five years after being drafted out of high school in the second round.

“It’s like just now sinking in,” Marsh said. “When I saw my mom, my sister and the rest of the family, that’s when it kind of hit me.”

The start of this season had been full of adversity for the 23-year-old outfielder, who is considered one of the Angels’ top prospects.

He had battled a shoulder injury that hampered him in spring training and limited him to just 25 games in triple-A Salt Lake. In April, his father, Jake, died from cancer.

On Sunday, Marsh’s mother, Sonja, brought a small urn with some of Jake’s ashes to the game.

“We just think he should be here, always supporting,” Sonja said during an interview with Bally Sports West. “He coached Brandon all the way up. He’s his Angel in the outfield now.”

Afterward, Marsh said his family “had a really, really good moment together. It was very special.”

The timing of Sunday’s debut had caught Marsh off-guard. While he’d long dreamed of reaching the majors, he had only played eight games in triple A after returning this month from his shoulder injury.

And while he’d batted better than .400 in that stretch — showing tools with the bat and in the field that convinced the club’s front office he was ready to be brought up — he said a call-up “was the last thing I was ever expecting.”

Angels manager Joe Maddon was less surprised. Even last year, Maddon remembered internal conversations about Marsh being close to ready to debut. And when asked Sunday if Marsh could stick around for the rest of the season, Maddon said: “I want him to expect to stay here the whole year.”

And though Marsh didn’t pick up his first big league hit Sunday, Maddon said the outfielder made a strong first impression.

“I thought he was calm — even though he probably wasn’t,” Maddon said. “I liked the way he looked, the way he moved.”

Added Marsh: “It was everything I dreamed of and expected. Felt a tick behind, but not too worried. Looking forward to the next couple of days.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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