Among the most recent Kamloops NorthPaws’ recruits is Ryland Zaborowski, who brings a unique story to the West Coast League baseball ranks.
Zaborowski, a 6-foot-5 freshman infielder at NCAA Division One Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, is likely to become the first player diagnosed with autism spectrum order to play in the WCL, according to a NorthPaws’ press release on Friday.
Scouting service Perfect Game ranks Zaborowski the No. 1 Western Athletic Conference freshman ahead of the 2021 season.
“He hits the ball a country mile and won’t have high strikeouts, either,” NorthPaws’ head coach Cole Armstrong said in the press release. “He has a rare combo of power and plate discipline, which everybody looks for in a player.”
Armstrong formed a relationship with Zaborowski last summer while coaching him in the Arizona Collegiate Wood Bat League.
Upon signing his letter of intent to play at GCU, Zaborowski became one of the first high school seniors diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder to sign a Division I letter of intent for a team sport, possibly the first player to do so in baseball, according to the NorthPaws’ press release.
“Being one of the only ones with autism playing Division I baseball, it’s a real cool feeling because it’s another way for parents that have children that have autism [to see] that there is hope for their future and just to never give up on their kids,” he said in the press release. “It hasn’t affected me at all on the field. Once I’m on the field, people will even say I had no clue you had autism or a learning disability. When I’m on the baseball field, it’s hard to notice it, but in social interactions there will be times when I can’t process what others are explaining, but that’s okay.”
The NorthPaws also on Friday announced the signing of another GCU product, left-handed pitcher Connor Markl, who features a low- to mid-90s sinker, a change-up and breaking ball.
“His movement creates a really uncomfortable at-bat, especially on left-handed hitters,” Armstrong said.
That makes four from GCU on the Kamloops roster, including Zaborowski, Markl, Ty Siffermann and Tyler Wilson.
“GCU is an emerging program on the west coast and I’m very excited for our fans in Kamloops to see the type of players that program is recruiting and developing,” Armstrong said.