TROY, NY − Former ValleyCats general manager Jason Bell’s replacement is here, and he is part of baseball royalty.

Ozney Guillen was introduced to local media Tuesday morning at a windy Joe Bruno Stadium as the ValleyCats begin their quest to defend their NY-Penn League Crown this week.

“He was happy, he knew I wanted to be a manager for a long time,” said Guillen on his father, Ozzie Guillen’s, reaction to the news he had been named the ValleyCats’ manager. “I always told him it was a dream of mine because it was a different side of baseball and I always wanted to be a part of it and he was really excited.”

Ozzie Guillen is a former professional baseball player and manager. Guillen managed the Chicago White Sox from 2004-2011 and the Miami Marlins in 2012. Guillen also coached for the Montreal Expos in 2001 and 2002, and the World Champion Florida Marlins in 2003. Guillen led the White Sox to their first American League pennant since 1959 in 2005, and their first World Series win since 1917 over the ValleyCats' major league affiliate, the Houston Astros.

Quite simply, Ozney has a pretty strong grasp on what it takes to win baseball at the professional level.

“I’ve been in baseball my whole life,” said Guillen. “You learn things and I am going to take my personality to help these guys learn the technology side and learn and know that is going to help them. I am all about it and I think they are all about it too.”

Guillen is excited about the analytical approach the ValleyCats and the Houston Astros Organization has adopted over the last several seasons and sees its importance in today’s game.

“The people have all the information, I like the way we teach it,” said Guillen. “We are very open to anything and it is very easy as a new manager to get the reigns and go ahead, do what you want with it, and hope it works out.”

Guillen is a fresh 27 as of January 3. Like Bell before him, Guillen’s youth will be an advantage to connecting with the younger players that pass through the ValleyCats system with hopes of reaching Houston.

“Honestly to me, that is the most exciting part. Being their first step,” said Guillen.

Guillen is coming off a four year playing career bouncing between Independent ball and the Venezuelan Winter League. He played his final games with the Ottawa Champions of the Canadian-American Association in 2018. 

“I know a lot of times guys can be scared to say something to their manager, especially being so young, between 18-20 years old, it’s like talking to a parent. You think you are always going to get in trouble. I am not going to give them that feeling. I know what it is like not being able to talk to a manager, I know what it is like being able to talk to a manager, so I am going to try and give them the best out of me.”

One perspective that Guillen does possess that last year’s manager Bell did not have is the experience of being able to observe his father and other pro ball players on the big stage.

“Seeing the guys go about their business,” said Guillen on the advantage, “Paul Konerko was one of the most professional guys I have ever met and that is the type of guy I look up to. Guys you see throughout your life − Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye, Ken Griffey − you see how they went about their business and I think that is going to help me at this level. That is what you need to teach these kids. The talent is there you need to just push them forward.”

Like Bell, Guillen plans on being very aggressive on the base paths and defensively. Quite simply, they can’t win if they can’t score.

“At this age, a lot of guys are worried about running the bases and sliding and stuff like that,” said Guillen. “I want to be as aggressive as possible. Especially with the young roster that we have, and I am excited to see how it is going to play out.”

Guillen continued.

“I think one of my selling points was base running and defense − When you push the envelope on other teams and catch every ball they hit, it becomes kind of hard when they give you only 27 outs and guys are running all over the place. It puts on pressure and I think it is going to help them develop in the later stages.”

An official roster for the start of the 2019 season has yet to be released at this time. The ValleyCats will have a scrimmage against the Albany Dutchmen on Wednesday at 10 am for Education Day.

An official preseason preview will be coming before the ValleyCats first game on Friday, June 14.

The ValleyCats will play their first home game of the 2019 season on Sunday, June 16, at 6 pm.

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