Mets Interested In Yusei Kikuchi: Hype or Hope?

An article by posted on October 15, 2009

Several sources are confirming that the Mets, along with several other teams, will be meeting with Japanese high school pitcher Yusei Kikuchi.

The 18-year-old lefthander, who throws a fastball that has been clocked as high as 96 mph, is the latest sensation hailing from Japan, and some say he might be one of the best.

Kikuchi will hold talks with the Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants on Monday, the Nikkan Sports newspaper reported Thursday. The New York Yankees, New York Mets and Seattle Mariners are scheduled to meet with him the following day on Tuesday.

Kikuchi is projected to be the No. 1 overall selection in the Japanese amateur draft to be held October 29th. Japanese teams are not allowed to make offers before the draft, but no rule prevents American teams from pursuing Kikuchi before that day.

Kikuchi could become the first high school player to bypass Japan’s draft and sign with a Major League Baseball organization.

In addition to a plus fastball, Kikuchi also has an above average slider and an average curveball. He has been working hard to improve his secondary pitches and mostly needs to improve his command.

Last month, Mets GM Omar Minaya expressed some interest in Kikuchi.

“I haven’t seen him throw myself, but I’ve heard his name. He wants to come to the majors? If so we’ll continue watching him”.

The following is a video highlight reel of Yusei Kikuchi. His fastball seems to show a lot of life and late movement.

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