Arizona Wildcats baseball coach Andy Lopez was without a third baseman days before the start of the school year.
Luckily, Seth Mejias-Brean was family.
Well, he knew a member of the Lopez clan.
"He and my son David were on the same legion team this summer that won the regionals," Lopez said. "Every time I'd see him play, I'd tell Seth and his dad, 'Gosh dangit, I'm sorry, I don't have any (scholarship) money. But if we do find some, we're going to come after you.' "
Six months later, Lopez is laughing.
Mejias-Brean has been a revelation as a freshman, batting .347 with a home run and 19 RBIs. He will start at third base and hit seventh tonight when the Wildcats open a three-game series with Sacramento State. The UA (13-4) has won eight straight games.
"We're lucky to have him," Lopez said.
Here's everything you need to know about the Wildcats' freshman sensation - in three convenient bullet points:
• Local star. Mejias-Brean was a three-sport star at Cienega High School, earning four varsity letters in baseball and three each in football and basketball.
College coaches noticed. Mejias-Brean verbally committed to San Diego State last year with the hope of playing football and baseball, but football coach Chuck Long was fired. And baseball coach Tony Gwynn lost touch with him.
Though Mejias-Brean hit .351 as a senior with three home runs, three triples and 11 doubles, he wasn't considered an elite baseball recruit.
"I called them, and they didn't call me back. I didn't hear, and it kind of freaked me out," he said of SDSU. "My first thought was Pima College. I signed with Pima."
• Last-minute addition. Mejias-Brean changed his mind in August when Matt Helm - a Wildcats commit - signed a $500,000 contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Mejias-Brean was hesitant to sign with the Wildcats, in part because school began in three days. If he was going to attend, he'd have to attend freshman orientation the following day.
"I was debating, should I do it? But I figured, it was a big step. I might as well do it," he said. "I thought, if I come here and don't play, I've wasted a year. But then I realized that even if I didn't play, I'd learn the game at a higher level. I'm glad I came."
• Making an impact. Mejias-Brean has made himself at home at the UA. Though his defense will need some work, coaches love what he brings to the plate. Mejias-Brean's .510 slugging percentage is third among Arizona freshmen - only outfielders Joey Rickard and Robert Refsnyder have higher percentages.
Lately, the Wildcats third baseman has benefited from a tweak in his swing. He's using his hands more - and relying less on his body to create torque.
Mentally and physically, Mejias-Brean is in a good place.
"I'm getting more comfortable and I'm hitting the ball good," he said. "I'm more relaxed and more focused."
• Who: Sacramento State at Arizona
• When: 7 p.m.