Oct 24, 2009, 3:26 PM EST
18-year-old Japanese left-hander
Yusei Kikuchi has scheduled a press conference for Sunday to announce
whether he will pitch in the United States or remain in Japan.
According to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker, recent media reports in Japan suggest that he will begin his career in Japan, however he also mentions the media are “hearing what they want to hear” in regards to the teenage phenom.
According to the Japan Times, Kikuchi has met with 20 Japanese and major league baseball clubs,
including the Dodgers, Red Sox, Rangers, Giants, Mariners, Mets,
Yankees and Indians. The Rangers have pushed hard to sign Kikuchi, even sending Derek Holland to Japan as part of their pitch.
The Nippon Professional Baseball draft is five days away, of which
Kikuchi is expected to be the No. 1 selection. The teenage southpaw
threw a 96 MPH fastball during the National High School Invitational in
April, the fastest pitch ever thrown by a left-hander since the radar
gun was introduced in national high school tournaments in 1980. If
Kikuchi decides to bypass the NPB draft, he would be following in the
footsteps of Junichi Tazawa, who signed a three-year, $3 million
contract with the Red Sox last December.