But after the Rockies made Tulowitzki the seventh pick in the 2005 draft, Espinosa arrived from Santa Ana Mater Dei High. Espinosa was drawn by the 49ers' scrappy playing style, their shortstop lineage and the chance to compete with Longoria, who eventually moved back to his more natural position at third.
"In the fall, Coach said, basically, whoever played better defense was going to get the spot," Espinosa said. "I've been there ever since."
Espinosa hopes to leave Long Beach with one achievement that eluded Gomez, Crosby and Tulowitzki -- playing in the College World Series. The 49ers advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals in 2003 and 2004 but have not made the trip to Omaha for the World Series since 1998.
Regardless, just as Crosby and Tulowitzki have done, Espinosa plans to return to Long Beach State once he becomes a pro to work out and advise the 49ers shortstops that follow at Shortstop U.