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Royals sign man believed to be the first player with autism in affiliated baseball

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Today the Royals signed outfielder Tarik El-Abour to a Minor League contract and assigned him to extended spring training. El-Abour is believed to be the first professional baseball player with autism to play affiliated ball.

As MLB.com reports, El-Abour played college baseball at Pasadena City College and Pacifica College and, after going un-drafted, signed with the Sullivan, New York team in the independent Empire League. He won the league’s Rookie of the Year award in 2016, hitting .323 in 122 plate appearances. Last year he hit .240 for the Plattsburgh Red Birds of the same league.

El-Abour came to the attention of the Royals via former big leaguer and former Royal Reggie Sanders, who, while working as an advisor for the club, founded an organization dedicated to empowering individuals with autism. El-Abour was invited to take batting practice with the club as part of the club’s Autism Awareness Night last year and the Royals have tracked him since. Today he joins affiliated ball.

A very big moment for those with autism and those who have loved ones with autism. A very big moment for the Royals. And, above all else, a very big moment for Tarik El-Albour.

Phillies talking to Blue Jays about Curtis Granderson

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Ken Rosenthal reports that the Phillies are talking to the Blue Jays about outfielder Curtis Granderson.

Rosenthal says that the Phillies are looking at Granderson as a bench bat and fourth outfielder to be deployed against righties. Granderson, 37, is hitting .230/.337/.417 with nine homers and 29 RBI over 81 games this season, substantially better against righties. Against lefties he’s a clear liability.

Granderson was traded at last year’s deadline too, from the Mets to the Dodgers, but cratered badly after arriving in L.A. and was a non-entity in the playoffs.