The Evan Longoria era is upon us

April 14, 2008 at 7:43 am 14 comments

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AP Photo/Joe Ranze

Evan Longoria was called up on Saturday and it started what will be known as the “Evan Longoria Era” in Tampa Bay. Yes, Evan Longoria is that special a player. Evan Longoria is the type of cornerstone that a team would build around. Evan Longoria reminds a lot of people of New York Mets’ third baseman David Wright. Scary thing is that Longoria could be better.

If you don’t know who Evan Longoria is here is a quick rundown from Keith Law over at Scouts Inc.:

Evan Longoria is good at baseball.

He has very quick wrists and takes short paths to the ball no matter where it’s pitched, resulting in lots of hard contact and a whole-field approach. He has plus power already and could grow into more, which would make him a consistent 30-plus home run hitter. He’s a tough out who works the count and will foul pitches off to get to something he can drive, but will take his walks and should post on-base percentages in the low .400s.

On defense, he has had no trouble moving from his college position of shortstop and should be among the league’s best defenders at third in 2008. He has good range in both directions, soft and sure hands, and a strong and accurate arm. He reads the ball well off the bat and adjusted quickly to the faster reaction times required at the hot corner.

If the player I’ve just described sounds more than a little like David Wright, you’ve got the idea. Longoria is three years younger than Wright today, and while he’ll debut a year later than Wright did, he has a similar skill set and upside to the Mets’ third baseman, who would have been my choice for National League MVP in 2007.

I got the pleasure of seeing his debut live. What you get is a man who knows how to play the game of baseball. A man who is merely 22 years of age and plays the game like a veteran All-Star. In his debut he was admittantly nervous but he looked great. He looked confident at the plate and smooth in the field.

His stance is open which allows for him to see the ball better and to get extended on pitches. He has the bat speed to turn on pitches inside as well (he pulled a 79 MPH fastball from Chad Bradford foul but it had clear homerun distance, if it was 88 MPH it probably would’ve been gone to deep left on a line). He has proper hip rotation which allows his bat to stay deep in the zone and it allows him to wait on pitches longer than your average big leaguer.

You will find it rare to see Longoria swing at a pitch he doesn’t like with less than two strikes on him. He will wait for his pitch. He isn’t afraid to hit with two strikes on him. He uses the entire field and he knows the strike zone.

In his first two games in the Majors he is 2-6 with 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 1 run, and 1 RBI. The thing that impressed me most was how he kept cool when he had a fair amount of borderline pitches called for strikes against him. Most young players would let their emotions get in the way or they would be impatient and swing at that pitch when it comes again, but not Longoria. He takes the pitch, knowing a time will come where he will get the benefit of the close call. When he is respected by not only his teammates and enemies but umpires as well.

He looks like a legit Gold Glover in the field. He makes all the routine plays and he makes plays that others don’t even attempt. He stays in front of the ball and he charges properly when he knows who is running.

The Rays are an up and coming team. A team that never won more than 70 games in a season and they should pass that mark with moderate ease this season. Fans will remember that Longoria appeared that year. They will remember that Longoria, years from now, was on the team that turned the corner and not the teams that lost 92+ games. They will call the period from 2008 to whenever the Evan Longoria era because he will be the face of the Rays franchise when they climb on top and when they win a World Series.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

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14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Charlie Nehl  |  April 14, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    I said “Here we go with Evan Longoria”, let’s see if he’s really ready for the show.

    If he’s as good as people say he is, we’ll a new superstar in no time.

    Reply
  • 2. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  April 14, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    He should be to the Rays what Mike Schmidt was to the Phillies. Yeah, he’s that good!

    Reply
  • 3. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  April 14, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Whew! Did you guys see Longoria pull that 93 mph inside fastball out of the park?! What a swing!

    Reply
  • 4. Tom Pollack  |  April 14, 2008 at 9:10 pm

    As long as he stays good and healthy and the Rays keep him for the long run, i am thinking the Rays will make the playoffs in 3-4 years

    Reply
  • 5. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  April 14, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    I think they will make it sooner. I honestly think they will be Wild Card contenders in 2009 and world Series contenders in 2010 (my bold prediction is the Rays winning the 2010 WS and at 2011 at the latest).

    Thanks for the comment Tom, keep em coming!

    Reply
  • 6. Erik  |  April 14, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    wow comparing Longoria to Mike Schmidt… That is one helluva comparison I hope he doesn’t turn into Alex Ochoa.

    Reply
  • 7. Erik  |  April 14, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    or for that matter Kevin Orie.

    Reply
  • 8. Charlie Nehl  |  April 15, 2008 at 6:15 am

    Haha. I remember when Kevin Orie was suppose to be the end all be all of 3B’s to finally replace Ron Santo. Epic Fail.

    Haven’t had a chance to check out that homerun yet. Hopefully I can on sportcenter tonight after work.

    Reply
  • 9. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  April 15, 2008 at 6:17 am

    Did you make the Orie comment for Charlie? Haha!

    Reply
  • 10. Erik  |  April 15, 2008 at 6:47 am

    Actually I meant it towards your comment Jonathan after you compared him to Mike Schmidt. Kevin Orie had a ton of talent in the Minors, as did Alex Ochoa… I needed a 3rd baseman who became a bust and well his name came to me. I wanted Orie to succeed, he was a good guy, played against him in A ball and we talked a little when I stole third. He was there on a minor league rehab assignment.

    It is probably on Youtube… and while your there check out the Kyle Kendrick traded to Japan Prank…

    Reply
  • 11. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  April 15, 2008 at 7:40 am

    I know you meant it in that sense towards me but Charlie is a huge Cub fan and I thought you made the Orie reference instead of a different 3B because of his fanhood.

    Reply
  • 12. Erik  |  April 15, 2008 at 8:34 am

    No, I wouldn’t do that since as a cubs fan he has been suffering over a century for the next world series victory for the cubs.

    Reply
  • 13. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  April 15, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Haha! True.

    Reply
  • 14. Charlie Nehl  |  April 15, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    I may be a complete die hard cubs fan, but I’m a realistic die hard’s Cubs fan!! Hopefully my time will come as a Cubs fan….. before I die. =)

    Reply

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