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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona shortstop drawing MLB attention with his glove

Arizona+shortstop+drawing+MLB+attention+with+his+glove

After almost 30 years of coaching college baseball, Arizona head coach Andy Lopez has seen his fair share of his players go on to play Major League Baseball.

With a knack for developing big-league middle infielders like Mark Ellis and David Eckstein, MLB scouts will generally turn to Lopez for his opinion about his own Arizona infield.

Recently, preseason All-American and junior shortstop Alex Mejia has been on the radar of several major league clubs.

Lopez said that based on his looks alone, the shortstop doesn’t seem like a big-league player, but he always says scouts have to see him play first.

“Physically (looking at him), you probably would walk away,” Lopez said. “But you have to watch his first step — he’s got a really good first step, and when it comes to hands, I’d put him right there with anybody that I’ve coached.”

Mejia said he appreciates the recognition, but knows that improvements can still be made to his game.

“I’m never too satisfied,” he said. “I’m always striving to be the best, always striving to do something better.”

According to Lopez, if someone comes to watch nine innings of Arizona baseball, it’s almost guaranteed they’ll see at least one brilliant play from his shortstop.

Against Stanford, Mejia flashed the leather on several occasions, including a full extension diving grab that he gunned to first from his knees to get the runner out.

“I thought he put on a spectacular show against Stanford,” Lopez said. “I know Stanford’s coaches felt that — they told me after the game.”

Despite his proficiency with the glove, Mejia keeps working.

“I think my defense needs to step up still,” he said. “I can make the great plays, but some of the plays I should be making, I’m kind of struggling with right now. But I can definitely pick it up.”

Arizona third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean has worked side-by-side with Mejia for three years, and praised Mejia’s skill on the field, as well as his ability to be a leader for the Wildcat club.

“He’s an aggressive player and he’s really vocal. He’s a great leader,” Mejias-Brean said. “If someone is struggling he’s got no problem going up and talking to him, he just likes to talk. He’s a great player out there too.”

After the season is over, Mejia hasn’t really given a thought to what’s next for him. He keeps his focus on the next matchup, and what he can do before then.

“I’m just focused on winning this weekend and working towards that,” Meija said. “I haven’t given too much thought to my future right now, whether it be (professional) baseball, or sticking around here another year, which is a great choice too, especially with Lopez and the rest of the coaching staff.”

For all of his defensive skill, Mejia’s no slouch with a bat either.

Currently he’s leading the Wildcats with a .380 batting average and is tied for first with 49 hits on the season.

Lopez said he’s amazed at Mejia’s progression thus far.

“It’s really a neat thing because he’s really worked hard,” Lopez said. “When he came here I wasn’t sure he was going to hit at the collegiate level, now he’s hitting close to .400.”

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