2K Sports announced today that it's chosen Evan Longoria, the All-Star third baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays, for the cover of MLB 2K10, and will put six designs up to a vote of fans of the series.
Ten days ago Kotaku obtained and published a confidential marketing survey showing that Longoria, the 2008 American League Rookie of the Year, was 2K's choice. Today's announcement confirms the decision but also shows the covers leaked out were mock-ups and not at all the final design.
"Being on the cover, right now, it's a process, and we're working on the game and trying to get things going, we're focused on bringing out the best in it." Longoria told Kotaku today. "I won't get to step down and really appreciate this until down the line, when maybe a 10-year-old kid brings a 2K Sports box to the field and asks me to sign it. Then it'll hit me."
Longoria's selection is somewhat of a departure for the series; from 2002 to 2008, its cover athletes were all New York players, including the Yankees' then-first baseman Jason Giambi, and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter three consecutive times each. Last year's cover athlete was Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants, still a large-market franchise in close proximity to 2K's Marin studio.
In Longoria, MLB 2K10 is selecting an up-and-comer from one of baseball's smaller market clubs - albeit one that stunned bigger spenders in 2008 to win its division and the American League pennant. Longoria has been selected to the AL All-Star team in both of his first two years in the league, and two weeks ago picked up his first Gold Glove award.
His role is not purely promotional; Longoria, an avowed sports gamer going back to Ken Griffey Jr. Baseball on the Super Nintendo, will consult on the game's development and work on components such as its situational authenticity.
"When we met with Evan at the (2009) All-Star Game, we hadn't gotten to the short list about who we wanted on the cover," said Chris Snyder, the 2K Sports director of marketing. "When we met with him, he said he loved the (MLB 2K9) commercial with Tim Lincecum, but he said, 'You know, in it, I hit this home run and Torii Hunter robs me. Can we maybe cut back on that a little?' He was joking, but we caught notice of the fact that he paid close attention to detail, that he saw it was him in the footage int was Torii who robbed him."
Head over to the 2K Sports official site if you want to vote on all the cover options. The game is scheduled for a March 2010 release.