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Osceola Graduate Aviles To Coach In Giants Organization

By Frank Carroll

January 17, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved. 


Willie Aviles.


KISSIMEE -- Six years into a pro baseball career, a Giant step for Willie Aviles also brings a change of uniforms.

Severing ties with Cleveland's minor-league organization for the first time since 1996, the 1985 Osceola High School graduate is headed to Hagerstown, Md., to be a hitting instructor and infield coach for San Francisco's Class A South Atlantic League franchise.

"The Giants were looking for bilingual coaches and found me," said Aviles, 33, a former All-Orange Belt Conference shortstop that toiled two years as a New York Yankees minor-leaguer before taking up a stopwatch instead of a glove. "It's more money and a better opportunity for what I want to do in pro baseball."

Aviles' playing days are history, but a desire to manage or become a big-league general manager remains a dream, not too distant from what his parents sought when they moved from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn, N.Y. in the mid-1960s.

"I've been chasing that opportunity for some time," said Aviles, who spends off-seasons crunching numbers instead of fastballs as a finance officer for Central Florida's booming home construction industry.

"This doesn't happen to often for guys coming out of high-school coaching with no professional experience," said Aviles, who finds time after hours to work as a volunteer assistant baseball coach at Dr. Phillips High School.

The jump from athlete to coach came easy for Aviles. He played a season at Miami-Dade North Community College after leaving Osceola, then signed as a free agent with the Yankees.

But, after two seasons with Oneonta (N.Y.) of the New York-Penn League, Aviles came to realize light-hitting infielders aren't in big demand at the major-league level.

Aviles had a chance to sign on with Independent League Salt Lake Trappers, but came to realize it was time to move on with his life. Going back to college, he secured a degree in finance at the University of South Alabama.

However, baseball was never far from his heart. Back at his alma mater in 1991, Aviles worked as a volunteer under coaches Rob Beach and Scott Birchler before the Indians came knocking on his door in 1996 in search of a bilingual instructor.

"I love this game," he said. "My goal always has been a baseball front-office job. Going with the Giants is a step in that direction."

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