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.