Kaito Yuki is making big moves in his baseball career, and he’s only 16 years old. Yuki currently lives in Japan and will be moving to the U.S. after signing a minor league contract with the Kansas City Royals, according to Yahoo News. Yuki otherwise would have started high school, but it appears like he’s ready to grab hold of a good opportunity when he sees one.
“My goal is to do well in the majors. Not everybody is given that chance, so I want to do my best.”
Yuki also said that “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 teen was first spotted by recruiters when he was playing a youth tournament in the U.S. last year. He is 6 feet 2 inches tall, 170 pounds, and throws a right-hander’s fastball at 87 to 88 miles per hour.
His contract also included a $322,500 signing bonus.
Yuki will be part of the Royals’ fall instructional league, and will likely debut in the minor league next year.
Royals Vice President Rene Francisco expressed the team’s excitement about adding Yuki to their organization.
“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.”
Francisco also expressed thanks to Yuki’s parents, who allowed him to sign on with the Royals instead of attending high school in Japan.
Hiroyuki Oya described his hopes for the young player, who said that “The first thing is for him to be patient and build up his body, and then if he stays on course, in five years get an invite to major league spring training.”
Meanwhile, Major League Baseball has cut all ties with the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol (LMB), saying that the LMB was engaging in “fraud” and “corruption.” The problem? The LMB has been accused of signing on tons of teenagers, and then holding the rights to them. This includes Julio Urias, who had his Dodgers’ $1 million signing bonus “snapped up” by the Diablos Rojos, who signed on Urias when he was 15 years old, according to SB Nation.
However, some believe that the MLB’s decision to cut ties with LMB is only temporary, as they hope it prompts the LMB to make meaningful change to their policies.