High schooler Kikuchi to remain in Japan

High schooler Kikuchi to remain in Japan

Japanese high school pitcher Yusei Kikuchi's 96 mph fastball had eight Major League teams courting him. But Kikuchi is not ready to move so fast.

Kikuchi, 18, announced at a press conference Sunday in Japan that he will opt for his country's pro leagues for now. He is expected to be the No. 1 pick in Japan's Oct. 29 amateur draft.

"I don't think I have what it takes to compete at the world level yet," The Associated Press quoted Kikuchi as saying during the press conference.

Once a player joins a Japanese team, he must play nine seasons before becoming a free agent. Some players, such as Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, can leave earlier through a posting system that allows Major League teams to bid for negotiating rights

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.