Yusei Kikuchi will be holding a press conference at some point today to announce where he would like to start his pro career.
Regardless of his decision, a number of NPB teams, including the Hanshin Tigers and Chunichi Dragons, have already said that they intend to select Kikuchi with their first pick.
I'll be updating this post through out the day with the latest Kikuchi news on the net.
=== UPDATE: 10/25/2009 @ 10:36am JST
It appears as though Katsuya Nomura wouldn't mind giving Kikuchi his number 19 should he decide to stay in Japan and the Eagles win his services.
Said Nomura, "I don't really need my number retired. It isn't as if I was a player here anyway. ... So yes, please give my number to the next player. If possible, Kikuchi would be great. That is, of course, if he wants it. I'm sure the fans would love to see it."
=== UPDATE: 10/25/2009 @ 11:58am JST
Kikuchi decides to stay in Japan, more to come.
=== UPDATE: 10/25/2009 @ 12:03pm JST
Kikuchi has decided to remain in Japan. From the article linked to above:
"I decided to hold off on the Majors until I've become Japan's best pitcher," said Kikuchi.
He continued, "If I'm selected [at the upcoming draft], I will join that team and do my best."
=== UPDATE: 10/25/2009 @ 2:38pm JST
Your reason for picking the NPB?
I didn't think my current abilities would translate well on the world stage. I want to prove myself in Japan first before moving onto the world. And now that I've decided to play in Japan, I will do my absolute bests here.
When did you decide?
I made the final decision yesterday (10/24). I made the decision while having a conversation with my manager (Sasaki) and my family.
Your feelings right now?
I have no regrets. If a Japanese team picks me, I'll do my best for that team.
Your feelings on the Majors?
I did think there were some differences [in the system between Japan and the US], but both systems were equally impressive. Clubs said that they would provide me with an interpreter and help me with food and support. I feel really bad about them coming all the way out to Japan only to be let down by my decision. But my decision is to become the best pitcher in Japan first. For the time being, I will forget about the Majors and just focus on becoming the best pitcher in Japan.
What makes a pitcher the best in Japan?
I don't know what kind of numbers I'll need, but I want to be number one in all areas, including becoming a pitcher the fans love and support.
=== UPDATE: 10/25/2009 3:26pm JST
NPB clubs react to Kikuchi's decision:
Nippon Ham Fighters: We have been talking about selecting him since the Spring so we feel relieved. We look forward to winning the right to negotiate with him and would love for him to realize his dream of becoming the best pitcher in Japan while in Hokkaido.
Hanshin Tigers: I'm relieved. This is great news for Japanese baseball and I really think it was in his best interest. All that's left is to win [the right to negotiate with him]. We want to help him grow into a pitcher that can represent Japan.
Yakult Swallows: His decision will not only make the Japanse baseball community happy, but also the fans as well. I'm really looking forward to him pitching well in front of the fans in Japan.
Chunichi Dragons: We're grateful he decided to play in Japan. But even if he decided to go to the Majors, we were prepared to select him with our first pick. We're ready for the battles [over him].
Yokohama Bay Stars: When we spoke to him during our meeting, we asked that he stay in Japan and so this makes us happy. He's without a doubt a worthy number 1 pick for Yokohama so we will consider the options.
=== UPDATE: 10/25/2009 6:43pm JST
...MLB scouts in Japan react to Kikuchi decision:
Dodgers - Keiichi Kojima, Head Japan Scout: I'm sure he thought long and hard before making his decision. And just as his father said, the rest is all about him following the path he decided on. I want to respect his decision and support him moving forward.
Mariners - Yasushi Yamamoto, Head Japan Scout: I think his decision to stay in Japan is a natural one. It requires a lot of courage to make the leap to the Majors. I really wanted him to become a pioneer, but that's his decision to make, so it can't be helped.
Mets - Isao Ojimi Pacific Rim Scout - I wonder why the adults around him couldn't provide a kid with the skills and motivation a little push. The tears he shed at the end were about him not being able to fulfill his dreams and for feeling bad about turning us down.
...A re-hash of some of the questions and answers he provided in an interview I translated up above:
On your decision
I felt as if I didn't reach my goals of being number 1 in Japan when I was in high school so I want to try it again at the pro level. I also don't think my current level would translate well on the global stage.
On having a hard time deciding
I called my parents and spoke to my manager a lot. In the end, I decided I wanted to prove myself in Japan first before heading out onto the global stage. I made the decision yesterday.
Are all 12 NPB clubs ok?
I will do my best for whichever club picks me. I will forget about the MLB for now and focus on becoming the best pitching in Japan.
What was one of things things you considered when thinking about the Majors?
As soon as I got into school, I set my sights on the Majors after graduating high school. I've had dreams about the Majors since elementary school.
In what areas do you think you lack?
My velocity, changing speeds, control... These aren't at usable levels yet. I need to improve on all these levels.
Father: I just told him to go with what you're feeling. I also said that I'll watch him pitch if he has any games close by.
Mother: I just told him to be careful about getting hurt. I'd also like for him to come home once in a while.
...Kikuchi's manager says that he'd like to continue provide Kikuchi with whatever support he might need moving forward.