06/06/11 9:20 PM ET
Ozney Guillen eager to start pro journey
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
If it weren't for his age checking in at 19, Guillen would appear to be any other member of the 2011 White Sox moving around U.S. Cellular Field this past weekend.
Maybe it's the fact that the youngest of manager Ozzie Guillen's three sons basically grew up around the game, from the time his father was a player through his eight years running the White Sox.
Talk to Ozney and a composed maturity immediately comes through in his thoughts. But ask him about the excitement of possibly being taken in Tuesday's second day or Wednesday's final day of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft, a move signaling the start of his professional career, and Ozney conveys a feeling of understated determination for ascending into adulthood more than youthful thrills.
"It's kind of a chip on my shoulder," said Ozney, speaking to MLB.com in the White Sox clubhouse on Sunday afternoon. "Last year, I was younger and I thought it would be more exciting. This year, I'm ready to go and want to prove myself ready and prove people wrong."
For those who forget Ozney's 2010 Draft situation, it was a disappointing Day 2 for the entire Guillen family. The White Sox selected Ozney in the 22nd round with the No. 668 pick out of Monsignor Pace High School in Florida.
Ozzie Guillen voiced his disappointment to the media about his son possibly being under-drafted prior to a home contest with the Tigers and spoke of how Ozney would be attending South Florida instead of going pro. Those comments came more from Ozzie Guillen, Ozney's father, than Ozzie Guillen, the accomplished baseball man. The elder Guillen hadn't talked to scouts prior to the Draft about his son's projected status, but added that he respected their opinion.
There was one more telling comment made by the father, knowing his son would prepare himself better in the upcoming year and show people if they were wrong or right. In retrospect, Ozney believes the aftermath with his father was made into a bigger deal than the actual 22nd-round selection.
"People put it more on my dad," Ozney said. "He didn't take it in a bad way. My family didn't take it in a bad way.
"Being drafted in the first 50 percent of any Draft is an honor. I took it as an honor. I think the aftermath of the way that people made it look, the perspective around it, that kind of upset me a little bit. People downplayed the way I played."
Instead of attending South Florida, Ozney opted for Miami Dade College to make him eligible for the Draft once again this year. The left-handed hitter, projected as a corner infielder or outfielder, posted a .347 average with 26 runs scored and 33 RBIs over 44 games played.
"He can be pretty good in right field. He can play very good first base. Third base, I think he's still rough," said Ozzie. "He's got pretty good hand coordination. He's a pretty good athlete. Whatever you ask him to do, he is capable of doing it."
"Last year was a little bit of a disappointment, but I think we should be fine this year," Ozney said. "I proved myself at a higher level in Florida, one of the biggest community college leagues in the country. I think I proved myself to enough people, whether it's here or somewhere else."
Ozney will sign with a Major League team this year, regardless of the round he is taken, "unless it's something absurd," the youngest Guillen added with a smile. Ozzie wants his kids to follow their dreams, but he also wants them to get an education.
So, continuing on with college in some manner was one of the deals Ozzie made with his son. When asked if he would like to play for the White Sox, Ozney acknowledged that he would enjoy spending Spring Training with his dad and it would be less travel for his mom, Ibis. But he added that, right now, it's more about any team having interest.
Playing professionally has been the goal for the youngest Guillen. And just like was the case with his older two sons, Ozzie Jr. and Oney, Ozzie wants his kids to follow their hearts.
"Being a father, that's my real job," Ozzie said. "Nobody can take away from you being a parent, a dad. That's very important.
"To be honest with you, that's the only thing that's really mine. This uniform is not mine, the money is not mine. It's with my wife and my kids. The only thing that is really, really mine is my kids.
"Whatever it is my kids choose to do in life, we are behind it 100 percent," Ozzie said. "Ozney is a pretty good baseball player. He knows how to play the game. He has the support from me and his mom."