Ryan Wagner declined his first opportunity to coach in the Texas Collegiate League, but he wasn't about to miss out on a second chance.

Wagner has been named the head coach of the Victoria Generals for the upcoming season.

Wagner helped lead Yoakum to the Class 3A state tournament and was an All-American at the University of Houston before being drafted in the first round by the Cincinnati Reds in 2003.

"Last year, they had contacted me about the Tomcats, but I was in a position where I wasn't able to do it," Wagner said. "This year, I'm in a little better position to take it. With what the Generals have done in the past, it was something I couldn't turn down."

Wagner will replace Chris Clemons, who decided not to return after coaching the Generals in their first two seasons.

"Ryan's playing and coaching background make him a great asset to our organization in terms of teaching and managing the game, as well as in helping us recruit the best student-athletes to Victoria during the summers," said Generals general manager Blake Koch.

Wagner, 28, pitched for the Reds and Washington Nationals for five seasons before undergoing surgery for a torn labrum in his right shoulder in 2007.

Wagner attempted to rehab his shoulder before retiring in 2009. He has been holding clinics and coaching area select teams since ending his playing career.

"The college level is where I want to be," Wagner said. "I love coaching the younger boys, but it's definitely a slow down from the big leagues.

"With the little kids, it's fun teaching the fundamentals and watching them grow. But a lot of these kids are D-I players and when you tell them something they are able to make the adjustments."

Clemons led the Generals to the regular-season title in 2009 and the overall league championship last season and was named coach of the year in the TCL.

"No matter what you do everything is more fun when you win," Wagner said. "My goal as a coach no matter what happens is to get these guys ready for the next level. I'm able to teach what it takes for the next level. Some guys get it right away. Other guys have to take two steps backward before going three steps forward.

"I want them to become a better baseball player," he added. "Win or lose, that's what I'm trying to accomplish."

Wagner will be assisted by Hallettsville head baseball coach Shorty Cook.

The Generals open the season June 1 at Riverside Stadium.

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