More Attention for Kikuchi

» 31 May 2009 » In international baseball, npb draft »

Yusei Kikuchi really knows how to pack ’em in. He pitched in a practice game against Yokohama High School, drawing about 300 spectators, 30 of whom were scouts. Seven Japanese teams were on hand, as were scouts from the Rangers, Mariners, Mets and Yankees. Kikuchi did his part, going six innings and allowing one run on four hits with five strikeouts, while hitting 93 on the gun.

Some reactions to Kikuchi’s performance…

Mets Scout Russ Bove: “I can’t go into details, but he’s a good player.”

Yankees Scout Shoichi Kida: “Going forward we need to see him player a lot more games. I want to see more.”

Kikuchi himself: “Recently I’ve gotten to where I can relax and throw (in front of pro scouts). I was able to hold the other-wordly Yokohama to one run in six innings, so it feels like I’m maturing.”

Kikuchi is showing up in the media as a number of teams’ intended first-round pick in this year’s draft. It’ll be interesting to see what happens if this MLB interest escalates, or if Kikuchi reciprocates.

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  1. Patrick
    01/06/2009 at 1:34 pm Permalink

    Yay! The M’s are there! But darn the NY nation for being there too. I’m still surprised Imamura from Seiho isn’t getting a whole lot of attention along with Kikuchi. Perhaps Kikuchi’s “stand play” is helping him garner all the attention.

  2. Patrick
    01/06/2009 at 3:16 pm Permalink

    …probably because Kikuchi’s a cocky little you-know-what, so they think he has more of a mental makeup to go to the majors? (Okay, he’s not little, but, you remember what he was like at Senbatsu…)

    I dunno, if I was him and had broad aspirations I’d still stay in Japan first, get promoted to ichi-gun quickly because of being a famous high schooler, then 9 years down the line make the move to the majors with a trophy TV announcer wife and all of the fame of being a big Japanese star, rather than go hang out in the US minor leagues for a few years first hoping to work his way up. But who knows. The organizations just want to have information on him regardless, if he does make a decision to jump ship in the future.

  3. Patrick
    01/06/2009 at 3:52 pm Permalink

    Two things I didn’t get into the post because of time constraints:

    1. The Yankees’ public stance on Tazawa was that they were staying away to avoid irritating the NPB brass. Who knows if the meant it. If they go after Kikuchi it would be a reversal of that policy, if it in fact existed.

    2. I have a hard time seeing the NPB teams rolling over for Kikuchi like they did for Tazawa. I think someone will draft him this year.

  4. Patrick
    01/06/2009 at 4:41 pm Permalink

    Of course I remember Kikuchi at senbatsu – that’s why I refer to his “stand play” as I think the Japanese would refer to it as for grandstanding.

    Your joking aside, I always wondered if a top-tier HS/college player would ever venture out straight into MLB and work their way through the minors (Tazawa being the closest comparison although it was an industrial league). Certainly, the salary and popularity associated with staying make it difficult for someone to do so – but I wonder if in this case Kikuchi is seriously considering it. If his personality on the mound is an accurate reflection of him (which I have no doubt it is), he may be a candidate to do so.

    While I find the prospect intriguing, and it would be nice to see a pitcher from HS here in the states, I’m sure that this won’t be a growing trend – thankfully. I’d like to see baseball as a whole in Japan continue to be strong – although I’m know there are things that they need to improve upon such as their minor league system and the like.

    BTW, I just looked at Tazawa’s numbers so far in AA Portland, not too bad. 5-3 record in 10 starts, 8.9 K/9 and a 2.8 BB/9 rate and with a BABIP of .287, that doesn’t seem to be fluky either.

  5. Patrick
    01/06/2009 at 5:10 pm Permalink

    On that point, the Nikkan Sports draft guide had an interesting comment on Kikuchi’s makeup. The writer said that he was watching Kikuchi in a bullpen session, and Kikuchi stopped and left for a few minutes. He came back with a folding chair and offered it to the writer. The writer commented about how conscientious he seemed, and that he fetched the chair himself rather than getting a kohai (younger student) to do it.

  6. Patrick
    01/06/2009 at 7:23 pm Permalink

    Hm. That’s interesting. I don’t know how to explain my thinking after reading that other than that it seems to build the idea that he’s a bit of the independent sort, also he’s responsible, but not necessarily beholden to the traditional ways.

    I suppose one way I can explain it is that he’s a very competitive person and outwardly shows it. And in that sense he’s responsible by improving himself to becoming a better player to match that competitiveness in him (not to say that everyone else isn’t, but I hope you get the point). That type of drive would work in the states should he choose to go.

    Forgive my jumbled commentary, it never quite comes out the way I’d like it to.