Soto, Longoria recognized by players

Soto, Longoria recognized by players

CHICAGO -- Both their teams know how special Cubs catcher Geovany Soto and Rays third baseman Evan Longoria were in 2008. Apparently, so do the rest of Major League Baseball players.

Soto and Longoria were named the top rookies of 2008 in two separate ballots involving players.

The pair were selected the Sporting News' Rookies of the Year, in voting by a panel of 314 Major League players, and also voted the top freshmen by their peers in the 2008 Players Choice Awards, announced Wednesday by the Major League Baseball Players Trust and Yahoo! Sports.

Soto batted .285 with 23 home runs and 86 RBIs and handled a pitching staff that included four 11-plus game winners and won 97 games, most in the National League. The Cubs compiled the third-lowest ERA in the league in winning the NL Central.

"In Chicago, there haven't been many catchers who have done what [Soto] did, catching 140-some games, because of all the day games and the toll it takes on your body," Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster told the Sporting News. "As far as handling pitchers, he's been lucky and good in that he has veteran guys who know what they want to do. But he's not afraid to come to the mound and challenge us."

Soto also was the first rookie catcher to start in the All-Star Game, getting the nod this year.

Longoria began the season in the Minor Leagues and missed more than a month with a fractured wrist, but still managed to hit .272 with 27 home runs and 85 RBIs in 122 games for the American League champion Rays.

"Here's a kid who does not take anything for granted. He understands how blessed he is to be in the big leagues," Rays first baseman Carlos Pena told SN. "But at the same time, he knows at a very early age that it's the same game he was playing in college and high school. To be able to have that type of mentality at this level is great. In all these situations, he's still just playing his game. That's not easy."

The 2008 Players Choice Awards, presented by Playstation, benefit the Major League Baseball Players Trust. Additional support for the Players Choice Awards is provided by The Topps Company and The Upper Deck Company.

Each 2008 Players Choice Award winner will recommend the charity of his choice to receive a grant from the Major League Baseball Players Trust. Since 1992, the Players Trust has contributed more than $3.25 million to charities around the world in honor of Players Choice Award winners.

Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.