Yusei Kikusei really knows how to pack 'em in. He pitched in a practice game against Yokohama High School, drawing about 300 spectators, 30 of whom were scouts. Seven Japanese teams were on hand, as were scouts from the Rangers, Mariners, Mets and Yankees. Kikuchi did his part, going six innings and allowing one run on four hits with five strikeouts, while hitting 93 on the gun.
Some reactions to Kikuchi's performance...
Mets Scout Russ Bove: "I can't go into details, but he's a good player."
Yankees Scout Shoichi Kida: "Going forward we need to see him player a lot more games. I want to see more."
Kikuchi himself: "Recently I've gotten to where I can relax and throw (in front of pro scouts). I was able to hold the other-wordly Yokohama to one run in six innings, so it feels like I'm maturing."
Kikuchi is showing up in the media as a number of teams' intended first-round pick in this year's draft. It'll be interesting to see what happens if this MLB interest escalates, or if Kikuchi reciprocates.