Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Former MLB player and coach Julius Matos opens a youth baseball facility in Port Richey

PORT RICHEY — Specialized training is a growing trend in youth athletics. With the opening of former Major League Baseball player Julius Matos' training facility, baseball players in west Pasco have a new home for focused workouts.

Matos, 37, is a former hitting coach with the minor-league affiliates of the New York Yankees whose 13-year playing career included stints in San Diego and Kansas City. After an altercation in the Trenton Thunder dugout with the team's manager, Matos was suspended and went his own way at the end of the 2011 season. These days, he is coaching the Ridgewood High School baseball team and training young players in the Port Richey area.

"Working with kids is something that I've been doing for several years now and it's something that I enjoy doing because it comes with a lot of satisfaction," Matos said. "But it wasn't until about a year and a half ago that I started to think about making it a business and getting some travel ball teams together. I started looking into this area at what was around for this type of training and I think that there is an opportunity for me here."

He and his wife, April, in love with the area several years ago when Matos came to Clearwater for training with the Blue Jays. They later made Pasco their home, saying it felt like a good place to raise their son, Julyan, 2.

At the helm at Ridgewood High

Julius Matos Baseball Clinics have been going on for years before Matos opened the Port Richey JMBC facility. In some of his clinics he came across players from Ridgewood and was made aware of the head coach opening. The pay — $2,000 a year — wasn't the lure. He was drawn by the attitude of the kids he saw in the fields.

"I wasn't training them personally but I would see them come out to the ballpark on their own and throw batting practice to each other so I started doing that for them after I was done with my lessons," Matos said. "The guys expressed concern that they may not be able to play this year because they hadn't found a coach, so I spoke with the athletic director and everything fell into place."

Opening up JMBC just in time for the new year, Matos has joined with John Krupp's Lil Sluggers franchise, a national chain of organizations dedicated to teaching the fundamentals of baseball to kids ages 2 to 5. By doing so, the pair have created a partnership that could blossom into a full-blown baseball academy with a family atmosphere where kids of all ages could come to learn the game of baseball.

"That's the goal," Krupp said. "We want to get to the point where we have a few AAU teams that we run out of here. For me, it's made perfect sense to partner with Julius because even though I've coached for 20 years I never want to stop learning. He's played professionally and I think I can learn a lot from him as can the kids that come up through Lil Sluggers."

Playing 21st century brand of baseball

Years ago, when guys like Matos and Krupp were growing up, the only outlet for kids to become better baseball players was to go out to the park and play. Kids in 2012 don't play as they used to, however, and specialized training like what Matos offers has become a popular outlet for young athletes looking to improve their game.

"I see a huge difference in the amount of training that kids are seeking," Matos said. "When I was a kid you couldn't wait to get out of school, grab a bat and play down at the corner. Without that, I think that some of the dedication gets lost but at the same time kids are aware that they want to get better. As a result they are seeking training like this, but not all training is necessarily good or administered the right way. We want to give people someone who they can click with and someone who understands the player's strength and what they're trying to achieve."

Wayne Griggs' son, Garrett, has been practicing his hitting with Matos for the last two months, and according to Griggs, a coach himself, the benefits are plain to see.

"I was looking for a hitting and fielding instructor because even though I'm a coach, kids always listen to someone else more than their parents," Griggs said. "We've been with Julius for about two months and he's phenomenal because there are a lot of ex-pros out there doing lessons and even though they have all the knowledge in the world they can't relay it. Julius is a guy that the kids seem to gravitate to and he puts the techniques he teaches into a language they understand."

>>fast facts

Coaches clinic Jan. 28

Julius Matos will hold a coaches clinic from 3 to 6 p.m. Jan. 28 featuring former Toronto Blue Jay and current New York Yankees catching coordinator Julio Mosquera and Danny Borrell, the Yankees rehab pitching coordinator. Coaches from all levels are welcome. The clinic will cover drills, proper coaching strategies and more. The cost is $125. For information, call JMBC Baseball at (727) 534-6822.

The JMBC facility is at 8251 Kristel Circle in Port Richey (near Ridge and Little roads). For information on the facility, visit

For information on Lil Sluggers, call (727) 857-3216.

Former MLB player and coach Julius Matos opens a youth baseball facility in Port Richey 01/17/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 8:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review: Mumford and Sons shower Amalie Arena with love in euphoric Tampa debut


    There are releases, and then there are releases. And minutes into their concert Wednesday at Amalie Arena, Mumford and Sons gave Tampa the latter.

    Mumford and Sons performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sept. 20, 2017.
  2. FEMA to open disaster recovery center in Riverview


    The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will open a disaster recovery center Thursday in Riverview for Hillsborough County residents impacted by Hurricane Irma.

  3. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander


    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  4. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.


    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  5. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest


    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]