Like just about every young player entering pro ball, Seth Mejias-Brean had never struggled with the game. In three years at the University of Arizona, he hit .310, .313 and rounded out his college career with a .355/.491/.479 line.
He built on that in his first taste of Minor League ball last year with Rookie-level Billings, batting .313/.389/.536 in 46 games.
Then, April happened.
In his first 23 games of the season with Class A Dayton, Mejias-Brean hit .190.
He's steadily dug himself out of that hole and showed just how far he's come by going 5-for-5 with a pair of doubles, three RBIs and a run scored Wednesday night to help the Dragons outslug Cedar Rapids, 12-6.
"It's a great feeling," the 22-year-old first baseman said. "That first at-bat, I kind of snaked one out, kind of a swinging bunt, and I just beat it out. After that, it really snowballed for me tonight. Had the two doubles and I smoked 'em, and then just a couple of seeing-eye singles through the six-hole. Everything fell into place tonight."
Mejias-Brean said the first month of the season and the slump he found himself in came as a bit of a shock. But he felt he was better for having worked through it.
"This year was probably one of the first years that I've ever struggled so much, in the beginning," he said. "It was just challenging because baseball to begin with is a challenge. And then with the mind-set of going through a rough patch, you're trying to build yourself back up and it really helped me respect the game that much more."
Mejias-Brean, who almost chose San Diego State over Arizona so he could play both football and baseball, has managed to transform his overall line from a low of .184/.295/.211 on April 29 to .278/.350/.385. He tied the team record -- and a career high -- for hits in a game.
"It was a grind to get out of that [first month]," he said. "I'm not going to lie, baseball's just crazy. You can do something perfect and line out and then do something wrong and get a hit. That first month, I was just grinding so much, not getting my hits. I think that just kind of got to me a little bit, trying to be that much more perfect. I'd think, 'OK, I lined out, but I could have done something else there to get that hit.' So from then on, I've been a little more relaxed, more of a mind-set of just playing the game.
"I definitely feel more comfortable and more relaxed, more poised. So I think, hopefully, I can finish out well."
Mejias-Brean capped his big night with a three-run double in the seventh that extended the Dragons' lead to 12-2. Dayton also got a grand slam from Reds No. 10 prospect Jesse Winker, while Jeff Gelalich, Sammy Diaz and Joe Hudson collected three hits apiece.
Sal Romano (6-7) won his second straight start after giving up two runs on five hits over six innings. He struck out five and did not walk a batter. Michael Lorenzen, selected 38th overall in last month's Draft, made his second appearance for the Dragons and fanned two in a 1-2-3 eighth.