Yanks on Kikuchi’s U.S. itinerary


yuseikikuchi Yusei Kikuchi is The Next Big Thing to come out of Japan. An 18-year-old prep star, Kikuchi could join Junichi Tazawa as a Japanese player who skips the Nippon Professional Baseball league to come straight to the Majors, and although the Yankees are going to be preoccupied with the Angels over the next 10 days, the team, according to reports, is going to meet with Kikuchi next week.

Via MLBTR, NPB Tracker reports on Kikuchi’s recruitment schedule. This week, he will meet with Japanese teams as his hometown league attempts to convince him not to jump the puddle for the Majors. After meeting with the NPB reps, Kikuchi will meet with the Giants, Mets, Dodgers, Yankees, Rangers, Mariners and Indians.

If Kikuchi leaves Japan, he will be the second big-name pitcher to head straight to the States in two years, and the NPB could be facing a severe young talent drain as more kids look to Major League Baseball for a more international stage and a quicker payday. Patrick Newman at NBP Tracker wonders if the Nippon leagues will look to collude with Kikuchi to ensure that he is drafted by the team of his choice and stays in Japan.

With Kikuchi coverage ramping up, Newman also published a scouting report on the young left-hander. He seems to be a smart kid with a good head on his shoulders, and he throws between 87-96 mph. Generally, his fastball sits low in the zone at around 90. Keep in mind that he is also just 18 and will probably add a bit of velocity as he fills out.

It will be interesting to see how the Kikuchi sweepstakes shake down. As young undrafted kids look across the Pacific, international baseball could be gearing up for a sea change, and the Majors may soon enjoy a stream of young talent from Japan. After the Yanks opted against going after Tazawa last year on the grounds of honoring the NPB draft, it’s intriguing to see them in the mix on Kikuchi. Perhaps they think higher of him than they did of Tazawa.

Feel free to use this as a discussion on the merits of international poaching of young players or use it as your regularly scheduled open thread. Oh, and today is Joe Girardi‘s birthday. So a happy 45th to the Yanks’ skipper. You know the drill; play nice.

Categories : Open Thread


  1. So everything was going uphill for me–I started my new website (check link), etc. Then I lost my history textbook before last Tuesday’s test and my Odyssey before tomorrow’s inclass essay. FML!!!

  2. mustang says:

    14/10/2009 at 10:19 am Permalink
    If he does decide to come over he will be hyped enough that the bidding for him will reach a nice high level. My question is thing…”

    Wondering if this was you who comment on the link from MLBTR describing the kid. The writing seems the same.

  3. Johan Iz My Brohan says:

    I like this kid more than Tazawa, come to the Yankees Kikuchi!

  4. mustang says:

    From what I read it seems like it would be a good investment.

  5. Tom Zig says:

    Those Joe Morgan ESPN Chats are just full face palms.

  6. MikeD says:

    …or perhaps the Yankees are annoyed they honored the agreement only to have the Red Sox, Rangers and others ignore it, so this time they plan to participate.

  7. JSquared says:

    Sounds like he can be a solid pitcher. I would have to think signing Kikuchi or Chapman is the thing to do. I don’t really see any big name pitchers coming up on free agency this year or next year.

    Yeah, there’s a few this year, but most of them are injury prone. I think if Kikuchi or Chapman only take 2+ years in the minors, which seems like a decent amount of time, either one that we sign should be ready to be in the bigs soon there after.

  8. Accent Shallow says:

    As much as I’d like the Yankees to sign the best amateur talent, I also wouldn’t like to see NPB wither and die. Unfortunately, I’m not sure I see a way to keep the NPB viable if its best amateurs continually defect.

    • Johan Iz My Brohan says:

      Yeah, I can understand an Ichiro/Matsui/etc move to the MLB, but if I lived in Japan, I would be pissed to see the Tazawas, Darvishs, and Kikuchis and the like go over to the US.

      • andrew says:

        I’m not so sure about that. I know baseball isn’t soccer, but I think most Americans are proud when one of our soccer players goes over to Europe and is successful. Didn’t Ichiro become a bigger star in Japan once he came to the US? I don’t know, i’m just wondering.

  9. Jersey says:

    “and the NPB could be facing a severe young talent drain as more kids look to Major League Baseball”

    Let’s say there’s a continuing influx of Japanese players. For each Japanese player that takes up a slot in MLB, there’s one less slot in MLB for non-Japanese players. I wonder if we’d see a corresponding influx of foreign (including American) players in the NPB? Could be interesting to look at, if someone had the time to put together the data.

  10. The Yankee fan in me is happy that my team has the ability to procure top flight talent like Kikuchi and Aroldis Chapman thanks to my team’s financial wherewithal.

    The baseball fan in me wants to see some sort of international draft so that the Pirates, Royals, Nationals, and Orioles can get these quality young players, because they need them badly and baseball needs those teams to not suck anymore.

    • mustang says:

      Strongly agree.

    • Drew says:

      Eh. Not many Cubano’s in Pittsburgh.

      Seriously, an international draft will do nothing to make Mr. Nutting pay players. Young players don’t make you win. They help you draw hype and then tear you down when you trade them for some cash and more young players.

    • JSquared says:

      Agreed. International Draft is a way to go, but how do you rank who goes first, If Nationals get first pick in the Regular Draft, do they also get first pick in the international draft?

    • Tom Zig says:

      Dayton Moore will still screw things up

    • mustang says:

      But Yankee Fan in me always wins this fight. Its up to MLB to change the rules until then Pillage & Plunder.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      Semi agree. Expanding the draft to Puerto Rico has been cited as a negative, as now less MLB talent is coming out of there.

      (Why? Because teams pulled their academies out, so players have to develop through other avenues.)

      While a fair distribution of amateur talent is a good thing, I worry that capping amateur bonuses could lead to more talent going to other sports. In the US, that’d be football/basketball, elsewhere, it may mean soccer or basketball. Or something else entirely.

    • The Artist says:

      The human being in me wants to see these (generally poor) kids get whatever the market will bear for their services. I’m not putting the interests of billionaire owners or the misplaced, unreachable concept of ‘competitive balance’ ahead of letting the little guy make a few bucks. I have that right, I’m not going to argue somebody else shouldn’t.

      • The industries we all work in are not very analogous to professional sports in many, many, many ways. Competitive balance may be meaningless in law, government, industry, etc. but it’s very important in pro sports leagues.

        I’m all for letting athletes earn whatever the market will bear when the time is right, but the NBA/NFL/MLB need to ensure some form of competitive balance, and drafts are a large boon in that regard.

        • Ivan says:

          Can you imagine in 03 when Lebron was eligible to get drafted under Baseball rules?

          He wouldn’t be a Cav period.

        • Esteban says:

          Yea, because the Yankees and Red Sox sign every single international free agent. You know, like Miguel Sano, who signed with the Yankees Red Sox Twins. Wait, huh, what happened? When’s the last time the Yankees or Red Sox or whoever in the top 5 in payroll signed the best/most expensive Latin American IFA?

          By organization (2009)
          Padres $5.8 million
          Athletics $5.0M
          Yankees $4.8M
          Mariners $4.6M
          White Sox $4.1M
          Reds $3.8M
          Rangers $3.5M
          Giants $3.4M
          Red Sox $3.4M
          Pirates $2.9M

          • The fact that wealthy teams do not always sign every single big ticket IFA does not mean that wealthy teams do not have an advantage when it comes to signing big ticket IFAs. They do.

            Moreover, the IFA market as presently constituted is not specifically what I’m arguing against when calling for an international draft. It’s only one portion of it. All of what I’m attempting to do is have a comprehensive set of mechanisms for funneling the best young players to the worst teams (and allow them to afford to keep them) in the interest of competitive balance.

    • Ivan says:

      Totally agree.

      Would you agree on a Salary Cap.

    • 27 this year says:

      but an international draft including Japan would probably lead to the NPB dissolving and major issues between the MLB and Japan, ones that would be hard to resolve.

  11. ROBTEN says:

    Does this mark a shift in Japan-US baseball relations?

    When Tazawa was available, Cashman said:

    “I’m old school — there has been an understanding,” said Yankees GM Brian Cashman to the New York Times. “There’s been a reason that Japanese amateurs haven’t been signed in the past, so we consider him hands-off.”

    Does this mean that the Yankees (and, generally speaking, MLB) no longer have an “understanding” with NPB?

  12. Rey22 says:

    Did anyone see that mlb.com article with the position by position comparison on the Yanks and LAA? Talking about their 2B platoon, they just had to mention “Dustin Pedroia, widely regarded as the best AL 2B.” Aren’t they forgetting about a certain Robinson Cano?

  13. iYankees says:

    I think the Sox have opened the floodgates for other teams with the Tazawa deal. Now, the Yankees are simply breaching an agreement that was breached before, so perhaps it’s not as bad the second time around. Maybe that’s why they chose not to pursue Tazawa—they didn’t want to be the first to ignore the previous gentleman’s agreement. Or, it could just be because Tazawa was 22 while Kikuchi is 18.

    • Drew says:

      Good businessmen don’t burn bridges. Sure, Tazawa helped the Sox get knocked out of the playoffs in the ALDS this year, but it will have repercussions for Theo further down the road.

  14. I like Kikuchi.

    Hell, I like all kinds of kuchi.

  15. Doing a livechat on the blog at 7.30 (3 minutes from now, yay for advance notice!)

    So come and join or whatnot, because who doesn’t love blatant self promotion?


  16. Salty Buggah says:

    Kikuchi. Kiiicuuchi. I like saying this name.

  17. Tonight’s useless observation gleaned from walking around the streets of Manhattan:

    I’m glad I’m not gay, keeping a gay wardrobe looks expensive as shit.

  18. Ivan says:

    Hey Tommie,

    Whats your thoughts on the Jets getting Edwards?

      • Seriously, though, Edwards for Stuckey (who is like a poor man’s Dennis Northcutt at best) and Trusnik (who is a poor man’s Larry Izzo) and two non first round picks is an absolute steal. Slam dunk of a trade.

        My only concern is the fact that we’ve given away three picks in next April’s draft between this trade and the Lito Sheppard deal. The good news is, none of them is a first rounder and one of them is guaranteed to be a 5th rounder–no more, no less.

        The second pick we sent to Cleveland is a third rounder that could escalate to a 2nd based on PT and junk, and based on how rapidly Braylon is being added into the offense, I’ll assume it does become a third rounder. The pick we sent to Philly for Lito is a 4th that can escalate to a 3rd or 2nd, but Lito’s already missed three games now; I doubt it becomes a 2nd; 3rd is more likely. So, it looks like we’ll have a 1st rounder, 4th rounder, 6th rounder and 7th rounder and that’s it.

        We’re probably trading back this April. However, I’ll bet dollars to donuts we flip Kellen Clemens to someone for a 4th rounder (like what the Texans did with Sage Rosenfels last winter).

        In fact, we may even trade Clemens to a team that desperately needs a quarterback… (looks in Cleveland’s direction)

  19. The Artist says:

    OK, we know that he’s Kikuchi, but is he Ki-KLUTCH-i?

  20. Left-handed Japs scare me…

  21. Charlie says:

    87-96 mph? that is a ridiculously huge velocity range.

  22. Mike Axisa says:

    I dunno if anyone’s watching the Rangers, but holy schnikees what a shot by Gaborik.

  23. Sean says:

    am i the only one who thinks the yankees need to work on their outfield this offseason?

  24. Januz says:

    There is a simple reason why the Yankees might go out and sign guys like Kikuchis and Chapman……….. they know a worldwide draft is coming, and the talent pool they had an advantage with (Because of money) will be severely limited. I fully expect between now and next August, the Yankees will really throw their resources into signing as many high levbel prospectss as possible.

  25. The Artist says:

    OK, so this afternoon we all found out what the pitching matchips will be for the Yanks-Angels. Yanks are going with a 3 man rotation and Angels 4. So as of now they are as follows (subject to change):

    Game 1-Lackey vs Sabathia (Edge Yanks)
    Game 2-Saunders vs Burnett (Edge Yanks)
    Game 3-Pettitte vs Weaver (big edge Yanks)
    Game 4-Sabathia vs Kazmir (Even, if Kaz is healthy)
    Game 5-Burnett vs Lackey (Even)
    Game 6-Saunders vs Pettitte (Edge Yanks)
    Game 7-Weaver vs Sabathia (ginourmous edge Yanks)

    I’m sorry, but if the Yanks win Game 1 this could be a quick series. IMO the Yanks have an edge in 5 of the 7 games, and that’s before we even discuss the bullpen, where it gets completely lopsided in favor of the Yanks. The Yanks have done well against Saunders in his career, plus he doesn’t have the profile of the type of pitcher who gives them trouble. He’s a nice, league average Lefty with decent stuff who hasn’t pitched in over 2 weeks. Weaver gets killed by the Yanks, his career ERA facing them is in the mid 6s. Kazmir has always given the Yanks trouble, but I’m wondering if he’s hurt. He usually pitches well against the Sox and got knocked around in Fenway on Sunday. There were reports he was hurt when he was traded, but the Angels went ahead and made the deal anyway. In any case, starting him at home instead of Yankee stadium raises and eyebrow for me.

    Yanks in 5.

  26. sly says:

    No thanks, I am yet to recover from the nightmare called “IGAWA”.

  27. X says:

    i cant read that first sentence.

  28. [...] In other amateur lefthanded pitcher news, Japanese teenager Yusei Kikuchi may announce his intentions to either stay in Japan or come to the States in the coming days. Ben wrote a bunch more about Kikuchi and the Yanks over the weekend. [...]

  29. [...] be the first overall pick in the NPB draft later this week.  Ben went through all the trouble of profiling the kid last [...]

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