Royals sign first-ever autistic player to minor league deal

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (ROYALS) – The Kansas City Royals announced today that they have signed outfielder Tarik (pronounced TARR-ick) El-Abour to a minor league contract. The 25-year old native of San Marino, CA. has handled the challenges presented by autism now earning the opportunity to become a professional baseball player.

“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.”

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. Last year he invited Tarik to take batting practice with the Royals before a game against the Los Angeles Angels as part of Autism Awareness Night. This year, El-Abour’s signing announcement coincides with the 2018 Autism Awareness Night, also vs. the Angels.

After graduating from San Marino (CA) High School, El-Abour began his collegiate career by attending Pasadena City College, playing as a freshman, then redshirting a season before playing as a sophomore. He then received a scholarship offer to play at Concordia University, however, was cut before the season began but did not let that deter him and he earned a starting spot with Pacifica College, who was just beginning a baseball program. After one season playing for Pacifica, the school merged with Bristol University in Anaheim, where he played his senior year while earning a degree in Business Administration.

Tarik went undrafted after graduating, but signed with the independent Empire League, playing for the Sullivan Explorers in southern New York. He won Rookie of the Year in 2016, hitting .323 in 122 plate appearances. Last year, he batted .240 for the title winning Plattsburgh Red Birds.