Photo/IllutrationKaito Yuki will join the instructional league in the fall before debuting professionally in 2019. (Masaya Ito/Asahi Shimbun)

The Kansas City Royals announced the signing of Japanese 16-year-old right-hander Kaito Yuki on Sunday.

Yuki, who was born on May 12, 2002, is believed to be the youngest player ever signed from Japan by a Major League Baseball organization. The 6-foot-2, 170-pounder from Osaka completed his junior high season in May and opted to sign a professional contract rather than attending high school.

"We are excited to add Kaito Yuki to our organization," Royals VP/assistant GM of international operations Rene Francisco said in a statement. "We are very much looking forward to seeing him get started in professional baseball next year. I'd like to thank and congratulate our Pacific Rim coordinator Phil Dale and our scout in Japan Hiro Oya for the tremendous work in identifying and signing this young man."

Yuki added in a statement on Sunday: "I wanted to play in the United States as soon as possible, rather than playing high school ball at Koshien Stadium (in Japan's iconic national championship)."

The team hopes Yuki will join its instructional league in the fall before debuting professionally in 2019.

His signing gives Kansas City 20 international prospects signed during the 2018 period, including 12 pitchers.