An 18-year-old Japanese left handed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi, still in high school, is contemplating skipping Japan’s NPB draft, where he is expected to be taken first overall, and going directly to MLB as a free agent.
Kikuchi is a 6-foot-1 lefty who reaches as high as 96 MPH with his fastball, but usually sits in the low 90’s with a curveball as his primary breaking pitch. All 12 NPB teams are interested in him and there is reportedly a lot of talk about Japanese teams going as far as collusion to keep him in Japan.
If he decides to skip the Japanese league there is no timetable for how long it would take him to reach the majors. The Red Sox’s Junichi Tazawa, the last amateur to come over skipping NPB, has been up and down all season, but he’s already 23-years-old. There also seem to be at least seven teams already interested in getting a look at him.
He starts meeting with teams this Friday and there is no word on how long the timetable will be here. It sounds like he’s going to decide early in October whether or not he wants to come here. From that point on he’s going to have to find a team to work a deal out with. Those seven teams, according to MLBTradeRumors.com, are the Giants, Mets, Dodgers, Yankees, Rangers, Mariners, and Indians. The Red Sox are interested as well according to NESN.com.
According to Kyodo News Service, Yusei’s high school coach claims he is about “50-50″ at this point. It was usually very rare for Japanese players to go from amateurs over there to professionals in America until last season when the Red Sox signed Tazawa to a three year $3.3 million deal.