Baseball: Japanese lefty Kikuchi begins talks with major league clubs

Baseball: Japanese lefty Kikuchi begins talks with major league clubs


TOKYO Oct. 19

Highly touted Japanese high school left-hander Yusei Kikuchi
held talks Monday with the first four of eight major league clubs that
have come to acquire his services.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, the Boston Red Sox, the Texas Rangers
and the San Francisco Giants met the 18-year-old, accompanied by
Hanamaki Higashi High School manager Hiroshi Sasaki, for 30 minutes

In a surprise move, the Rangers had their future ace Derek Holland attend the meeting.

Holland made his major league debut on April 22 and went 8-13 with a 6.12 ERA in 33 appearances, including 21 starts, this year.

23-year-old left-hander said he talked about how tough it is for
players to make it to the majors and how competitive it is to get there.

The Giants brought a Japanese trainer who belongs to their Single-A affiliate.

is scheduled to meet the Seattle Mariners, the New York Mets, the New
York Yankees and the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday and to hold a press
conference about his meetings with the eight major league clubs.

He met each of all 12 Japanese clubs on Friday and Saturday.

year, Junichi Tazawa refused to be named in the Japanese draft and
signed a three-year deal with the Boston Red Sox — the first such move
by a top Japanese amateur player.

Kikuchi helped Hanamaki Higashi
of Iwate Prefecture to a runner-up finish at the national high school
invitational tournament in April and to the semifinals in the national
championship in August.

His fastball clocked as high as 154
kilometers per hour in the third round of the national championship,
the fastest pitch ever thrown by a left-hander since the radar gun was
introduced in national high school baseball tournaments in 1980.