Royals sign first-ever professional player with autism

The Royals announced they signed Tarik El-Abour to a professional contract. (Royals Twitter/MGN Online)

A 25-year-old outfielder may have just made history.

Tarik El-Abour signed a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals, the club announced Friday afternoon. He is believed to be the first professional baseball player with autism.

The Royals tweeted "El-Abour has handled the challenges presented by autism now earning the opportunity to become a professional baseball player." Friday night is also Autism Awareness Night at Kauffman Stadium.

Royals’ advisor and former player, Reggie Sanders, who founded an organization dedicated to empowering and enabling individuals with autism, has been a huge influence on El-Abour, according to Major League Baseball's offiicial blog for the Royals, Royal Rundown.

“We see this as an outstanding opportunity for Tarik and our organization,” said J.J. Picollo, Royals’ Vice President/Assistant G.M. for Player Personnel. “We are built well for him, we have outstanding coaches, a caring environment and an opportunity to get at-bats in Extended Spring. Tarik has displayed a work ethic and passion for this game and he’s been successful. We are about providing opportunity and we embrace diversity and inclusion, so this is a good fit for both Tarik and the Royals.”

El-Abour played his 2017 season with the Plattsburgh Redbirds in the Empire Pro League, appearing in 38 games. He was named rookie of the year in 2016, batting .323 in 19 games for the 2016 Empire League Champions, the Sullivan Explorers.

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