Hardball Baseball Academy has teamed up with the Hank Kline Boys & Girls Club on Southwest 32nd Avenue and U.S.1, near Coconut Grove, to bring top-level training and competition to “the Mecca of youth baseball.”
On the same fields that many past and present Major League baseball players have played, many South Florida kids are receiving intensive fundamental training from two baseball veterans — Mike Tosar and Lazer Collazo. Since beginning the program in 1993, the pair has sent more than 200 youngsters to play at colleges around the country and there are six active players from the Hardball program playing in Major League Baseball.
Hardball Baseball Academy, 2805 SW 32 Ave., is in action every Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. At the academy, which Tosar compares to MLB Spring Training Camp, players ages six to 10 work on improving their baseball fundamentals in the morning. The pro-regimen for athletes ages 11-16 begins at 11:30 a.m., and includes training in speed and agility, hitting, throwing and defense, and concludes with an instructional scrimmage game.
“We play a competitive game, but give feedback during the game and after key plays for on-the-spot instructional moments,” said Tosar. “Player improvement happens very fast with this type of focused instruction.”
Tosar and Collazo teach players the value of hard work and dedication, provide individual instruction and organize a training curriculum to meet each player’s goals. This home-run combination partnered with their excellent reputations and connections in the baseball world give players the upper hand as they look to excel in their sport.
“We’re able to help a lot of kids get into college programs and beyond,” said Tosar.
“When we contact a scout, our reputation and experience gives weight to our recommendation.” Tosar, a Columbus High School and University of Miami alumni, has more than 15 years of professional baseball experience and trains and coaches Major League players in South Florida. He has been a manager, hitting coordinator and outfield and base-running coordinator in the minor leagues and a Latin American field coordinator, spring training coordinator and scout supervisor in the Majors.
Collazo’s background includes 26 years of Division 1 college baseball experience. In those years, he served as recruiting coordinator for the UM and the University of South Florida, the pitching coach at UM and Florida State, and made 14 trips to the College World Series.
The pair, along with their hand-picked coaches, also offer pitching, hitting and defense training in one-on-one sessions, small groups and for entire teams.
“We’ll run a two-hour intensive practice session with an entire team and the coaching staff,” said Tosar.
Hardball’s unique strength and conditioning program and speed-agility-coordination training program are designed to take athletes to the next level.
“These sessions are geared for the serious players,” said Tosar. “This level of conditioning and training enhances development. Players get faster and stronger.”
During the holiday break, Hardball Youth Baseball Camp will offer two-day camp sessions Dec. 27-28 and Jan. 2-3. Players ages 6-12 will learn baseball fundamentals and the mechanics for throwing, hitting, fielding, base-running, sliding and more.
“We’ll use contests built into drills to capture the learner’s attention, and we’ll conclude each day with organized games to provide a competitive outlet,” said Tosar. Hardball and the Boys & Girls Club will host first Miami Showdown Tournament, Nov. 6-11. The best travel teams in South Florida will come together to compete for the title of Miami’s Best. MLB players will attend the event giving tips and feedback, as well as pictures and autographs.
Scheduled to attend are San Diego Padres first-baseman Yonder Alonso, for the; St Louis Cardinals center fielder Jonathan Jay and Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. For more information, call 305-735- 1228 or visit www.HardballMiami.com