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When It Clicked: Rays 3B Evan Longoria

Evan Longoria arrived in the majors last April, but he truly arrived in October, when he homered six times in 11 games as the Rays advanced to the World Series. Though he struggled mightly in the Rays' loss to the Phillies in the Series, he is stating his case as the best young player in baseball this year, batting .346 with a league-leading 45 RBI.

When did it click for this 23-year-old phenom? In the summer after his sophomore year at Long Beach State, when he signed up to play with the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod League, which he entered as a relative unknown but emerged at the end of the summer as the league MVP and a rising star.

"I would say that happened to me even before I made it to pro ball. It happened when I was playing on the Cape, the summer after my sophomore year. I was playing with a bunch of college phenoms, basically. The Cape was loaded with college talent.

"I played very, very well, and for me, it was the realization that, if you can play at this high level, and play well against that type of competition, I knew I would at least have a chance to play pro ball and have some success. It was just [gaining] the confidence that I could play at that level and stand alongside guys on the same field who were some of the most highly touted college guys in the country.

"On my team was Andrew Miller, who's now a left-handed pitcher for the Marlins. I played against Daniel Bard, who just got called up by the Red Sox. [Red Sox shortstop] Jed Lowrie was there. On my team's roster alone we had, I want to say, four guys [get drafted] in the first round and supplemental [round], and 12 guys go in the top five rounds.

"I had never had an opportunity to go to a showcase or any kind of talent exposition before that, so that was the first time I had really had the opportunity to play in front of a bunch of scouts. So, obviously when you perform at that level with all these people watching, the perception of you is going to change. So I was lucky to be able to play in that league and get the exposure I did."

By Dave Sheinin  |  May 15, 2009; 8:02 AM ET
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