Ozney Guillen knows what his name represents in baseball.
If it sounds familiar it’s because the 26-year-old is the son of former Chicago White Sox and Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen, who led the White Sox to the World Series title in 2005 and is a former All-Star as a player.
Baseball might be the family business, but it’s also a serious one.
“It gives me more responsibility,” Guillen said. “I do take my name and the way I handle things more serious than others. People will tell you I’m very different in the clubhouse than on the field. I don’t believe in friendships on the field. When you’re between the lines, you have a job to do and that’s what I learned. My dad is what you call an old school baseball player nowadays and I don’t think it’s old school, I think it’s going about it the right way.”
Originally drafted by his father’s team out of high school in the 22nd round of the 2010 MLB draft, Guillen is now in his fifth professional baseball season. He made his professional debut in 2014 with Normal CornBelters of the independent Frontier League before moving on to the Sioux Falls Canaries of the American Association in 2016.
Guillen then spent last season with the Bridgeport Bluefish, hitting .253 with 29 RBI while playing with a broken toe for three months and other injuries. When the Bluefish folded at the conclusion of the league year, the outfielder didn’t have to go far to find his next baseball home, sign-ing with the Bees.
But like any young career, there have been ups and downs and learning curves for Guillen. That’s where the advice from the older Guillen came in, not so much about hitting or fielding, but about playing.
“[He said] just be happy, play hard and enjoy your time,” Guillen said. “Thank God, my first year in pro ball I had a really good year and then my learning curve was my second year. I had an atrocious year personally. I was hurt a lot, I wasn’t taking care of myself and a learned a lot. He let me play it out and learn slowly.”
That’s also part of the reason Guillen is excited about having a manager like Wally Backman, someone who will take a no-nonsense approach to the game as he will. Never one to look for praise, he’s always willing to learn how to get better.
“I’ve always been a been fan of Wally,” Guillen said. “I think, Wally and my dad, people think they’re crazy. But I think they’re very honest people. Our culture in society has problems with that. I don’t. If I’m playing bad then you should tell me I’m playing bad. If I’m playing good, you shouldn’t tell me I’m playing good. That’s my job. That’s what I’m here for. I think that helps people, especially with the situation we’re in, trying to get back to affiliated ball. Everything is a competition and that brings out the best in people.”
Guillen has high standards for this team he believes will compete and do so at a high level.
“I like winning,” Guillen said. “I would love to get picked up [by a Major League organization], but I think when you win, that helps everyone else around you. The more you win, the more scouts come and the more people get interested. I’d really like to be bring a championship to New Britain.”