Longoria and Soto named top rookies

New York, NY (Sports Network) - Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria and Chicago Cubs catcher Geovany Soto have been named the Jackie Robinson Award winners as the top rookies in the American and National League, respectively, as voted on by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Longoria, Tampa Bay's first Rookie of the Year Award winner, placed first on all 28 ballots cast and received a perfect total of 140 points to become the AL's seventh unanimous selection and first since Nomar Garciaparra in 1997.

"This is where, as a baseball player, I wanted to be," Longoria said via conference call. "If I told you two years ago I knew I'd be in this situation, I'd be lying. This is a dream come true and what you always dream of as a kid."

Chicago infielder Alexei Ramirez finished second, grabbing 18 second place votes and five thirds. Boston's Jacoby Ellsbury was a distant third with 26 points.

Soto, meanwhile, edged Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto by 82 points, placing first on 31 of 32 ballots cast by two writers in each league city. He was also second on one other ballot for 158 points, based on the 5-3-1 tabulation system.

He becomes the fifth Cub to win the award and the first since Kerry Wood in 1998. Soto is also the fifth catcher to win the award.

Longoria helped guide the Rays to not only their first-ever winning season, but their first AL East title en route to a trip to the World Series, where they lost in five games to the Philadelphia Phillies.

"I knew when the (Series) was over, I didn't play very well -- everybody who watched the World Series knew that," said Longoria, who was 1-for-20 against the Phils. "But, having the year that I had and just being able to play in that situation and that Series, I knew -- win or lose -- I was just going to the stadium every day to have fun.

"I was still pretty content with the fact that we had such a great year and really nothing to be disappointed about."

The 23-year-old third baseman, despite starting the season in the minors, was selected to the All-Star Game and finished the year with impressive numbers for any major leaguer, let alone a rookie. In just 122 games, Longoria belted 27 homers, drove in 85 runs and scored 67.

Longoria, the third overall pick of the Rays in 2006, should also garner some AL MVP votes next week. However, he missed a little over a month late in the season, likely costing him his chance to join Fred Lynn (1975) and Ichiro Suzuki (2001) as the only players to win a Rookie of the Year and an MVP Award in the same season.

The 25-year-old Soto, who became the first rookie catcher to start an All-Star Game, batted .285 with 23 homers and 35 doubles. He also led all rookies with 86 RBI -- one more than Longoria.

The Cubs, who won the National League Central for the second straight year, compiled the third-lowest ERA in the league with the young Soto behind the plate.

Soto is the first NL catcher to win this award since Mike Piazza did it for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1993. His 21 homers were also the most by a rookie catcher since Piazza's 35, 15 years ago

Other Cubs to win the award were Billy Williams (1961), Ken Hubbs (1962) and Jerome Walton (1989). Soto is the first Cubs rookie to hit as many as 21 home runs since Williams belted 25 in 1961.

Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens finished third in the NL, followed by Cincinnati teammates Edinson Volquez and Jay Bruce, and Kosuke Fukudome of the Cubs.

Kansas City's Mike Aviles, Armando Galarraga of Detroit, Oakland's Joey Devine, Minnesota's Denard Span, Minnesota's Nick Blackburn, Joba Chamberlain of the Yankees and Brad Ziegler of the Athletics rounded out the voting in the AL.

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