Kikuchi’s Latest Koshien Win

» 20 August 2009 » In npb draft »

If you follow NPB Tracker on Twitter, you might have already seen that Yusei Kikuchi won at Koshien again yesterday.

I was watching the game on and availed myself of the site’s watch later feature, so you can check out the game from the beginning by following this link. You can also check out the previous game, Chukyo’s 15-5 drubbing of Nagano here.

I wrote a bit about Kikuchi last spring, but this was my first chance to really see him in a game. He definitely has a live arm, with a heater that maxed out 154 kmph (~96 mph) but mainly seemed to range between 140-148 kmph (86-92mph).  He went to his secondary stuff quite a bit, showing a slider with good movement, and a slow curve that appears to be more of the get-me-over variety at this point. He still has work to do on commanding his breaking pitches, but the movement is there and he changes speeds well.

Kikuchi has gotten public attention from just about every NPB, with Hanshin and Yomiuri reportedly very interested in selecting him. I wrote about the MLB teams that watched in spring as well, notably the Rangers and the Mets. More MLB scouts have been watching him this summer, though I’ve learned to take that kind of news with a grain of salt. Daily Sports reported that the Cubs and Twins were in attendance for his August 17 game, but surprisingly I didn’t see any reports of MLB scouts at yesterday’s game.


Trackback URL

  1. Patrick
    Tom Dubberke
    20/08/2009 at 10:16 am Permalink

    What’s the status now on U.S. teams trying to sign Japanese amateur players? I recall that there was a big stink when Junichi Tazawa signed with the Red Sox, but it also seemed like a somewhat exceptional case in that Tazawa apparently had made it pretty clear he wanted to sign with an American organization rather than a Japanese one.

    Is there some sort of gentleman’s agreement that would prevent a U.S. team from outbidding a Japanese team on Kikucki, at least unless Kikucki makes it clear, like Tazawa, that he wants to sign with an American team?

  2. Patrick
    20/08/2009 at 10:24 am Permalink

    No one can stop him from signing with an MLB team if that’s what he wants to do, but NPB has a ruling banning teams from signing guys who have skipped NPB to start their careers overseas:

    I think that if Kikuchi bolted for MLB it was cause much more of a furor than Tazawa’s move.

  3. Patrick
    jim from sweden
    20/08/2009 at 12:02 pm Permalink

    I haven’t been able to see anything on the links you provide… It says there’s no archived video. Am I doing something wrong?

    I’d Really like to see something from Koshien.

  4. Patrick
    20/08/2009 at 12:16 pm Permalink

    What browser are you using? I’ve tried on IE8, FireFox 3 and Chrome, and had a friend try on a Mac and it’s all worked fine.

  5. Patrick
    20/08/2009 at 1:02 pm Permalink

    Okay Jim, the problem is your timezone relative to the timezone where the video was captured. Try this link:,August-20-2009 and adjust the date and time to get the video you want.

  6. Patrick
    Tom Dubberke
    20/08/2009 at 1:22 pm Permalink

    What I could see the most elite Japanese amateur prospects doing at some time in the future is agreeing to start their professional careers in Japan but requiring as a term of their initial contract that the Japanese team that drafts them has to list them for American teams after five or six seasons in Japan at the player’s option.

    In other words, if, after five or six seasons in Japan, the player is a big star, and he wants to go play in the U.S. on a bigger stage and for more money, his Japanese team would be required to list the player and sell him to the highest bidding American team, provided that the player so requests and can then reach an agreement with the highest bidding American team.

    The advantage to the player would be obvious. Instead of waiting until he had played nine seasons in Japan to become a free agent, he would be able to make the move a few years earlier when he is younger and can get a bigger contract out of an American team.

    I suspect that the Japanese teams would agree to such a contract proposal if put to them in the right way: i.e., give me this contract provision or I sign with a U.S. organization right out of high school. It would not be particularly costly to the signing Japanese team, because it would merely force them to do something they can do now at their own option: sell a player to a U.S. team for cash.

  7. Patrick
    20/08/2009 at 1:47 pm Permalink

    That more or less exists already with the posting system, minus the mandated term you’re suggested.

  8. Patrick
    Tom Dubberke
    20/08/2009 at 4:48 pm Permalink

    Which is why I think the right Japanese amateur could ask for and receive such a contract provision in the future. Small changes are easier to accept than big ones.

  9. Patrick
    20/08/2009 at 10:12 pm Permalink

    I am afraid I fail to see what benefit Japanese teams would receive in your proposal, Tom, by giving up a period in which they can have young, good players for relatively cheap money. Small market teams like the Rays and the Orioles need to keep players like Price and Wieters in the minors for extra days. To me what you are suggesting is another way to introduce a signability issue to the Japanese draft. The draft is far from perfect, as is, on both sides of the Pacific. There is no need for another confusion.