World Champ Cristian Matos Returns to Cary for 12U NTIS

Matos aims to be selected for 13U/14U Athlete Development Program

CARY, N.C. -- Just two weeks ago, Cristian Matos was celebrating a world title at the VI World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup in Tainan, Taiwan.

Now, the world champ is back stateside and looking to continue progressing through USA Baseball programming.

Matos is currently playing for the Northeast Stars at the 12U National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup in Cary, North Carolina. With a strong performance at the event, Matos can earn an invitation to the 2023 13U/14U Athlete Development Program (ADP).

“It would mean a lot to be selected to the ADP from NTIS this year,” he said. “I am still trying to get familiar with the ADP, but I really want to make it.”

USA Baseball’s ADP is a highly developed four-day on- and off-field national team-level instruction and education program. The event features advanced on-field skills development in front of USA Baseball task force and coaches, in addition to an off-field component for athletes that focuses on education regarding subjects like the NCAA and recruiting process, nutrition, strength and conditioning, and more.

Twelve players will be selected from this year’s 12U NTIS to participate in next summer’s ADP.

Matos brings experience to the NTIS that only few players at his age have. The Belleville, New Jersey, native learned a lot both on and off the field during his 12U National Team trip to Taiwan and has brought that back with him to Cary.

A major thing that Matos learned in Taiwan was that any player can contribute to the game at any time. After not playing for the first six innings of Team USA’s super round game against Mexico, Matos came off the bench and launched a pinch-hit homer to tie the score in the game’s final frame.

“That game-tying home run against Mexico was really exciting for me,” Matos said. “I sat the entire game and then came in and tied the game with a home run. I was really pumped up and it was really exciting.”

It was one of three homers that Matos hit for the U.S. in the tournament. He batted .500 (4-for-8) with the three blasts, driving in five runs. He also made two appearances on the mound, striking out three batters in two innings of work. Team USA went unbeaten in the tournament, beating Venezuela, 10-2, to earn it’s world-best fourth gold medal.

After returning to the United States on August 8, Matos was back at the USA Baseball National Training Complex just a few days later. His older brother, Rafael, competed for the Northeast Region at the 15U NTIS which began on August 11. It’s now Cristian’s turn at the 12U event, his second consecutive year competing in the NTIS.

Last summer, Matos earned his spot at 12U National Team Trials after being selected from the 11U NTIS. With one day remaining in the tournament, Matos has been enjoying the return to the process.

“Being back at NTIS is great,” Matos said. “This tournament is really fun. Getting to know some of the coaches and the players is really cool. Last year, it didn’t go so well for us but we’re playing well this year.”

Matos is focused on the success of his team this week at the NTIS, but also has his eyes on hearing his name called during the NTIS Selection Show, which will air after all age groups have been completed.

After all, he is locked in on one thing as he continues his young baseball career.

“My goal is to make every single USA Baseball event,” Matos said.