Yusei Kikuchi made headlines in 2009 when he was measured at 96 mph at the Koshien Tournament, setting a new record for a left-handed pitcher since the tournament began employing the radar gun in 1980.
That winter, he met with eight big league teams and all 12 Nippon Pro Baseball clubs before deciding to start his professional career in Japan.
Six of the twelve NPB teams ranked him first overall in the draft that year, and the Seibu Lions were the team to land his rights.
On June 12, 2011, he made his major league debut, pitching a shaky game against the Hanshin Tigers (6 H, 4 ER in 2 1/3 IP). He was 4-1 with a 4.14 ERA for Seibu this season.
Seibu declared its plan to place him on the posting system on November 5, 2018, with the 30-day term beginning a month later, on December 5th.
It was reported late on December 31st that he has agreed to a four-year contract with the Seattle Mariners.
The Mariners had been on a fire sale during the off-season, moving away expensive veterans, but Kikuchi was considered as one of the younger players the franchise hoped to build a future around.
Of course, they had a long history of having Japanese players succeed for them.
The deal was worth $56 million for four years, with a club option to extend it to seven years for a total of $109 million, according to numbers disclosed a few days later.
This includes a $6 million signing bonus. As a result, Seattle will have to pay Seibu a posting charge of $10.275 million.
When he started the second game of a season-opening two-game series against the Oakland Athletics at the Tokyo Dome on March 21, 2019, he became the first Japanese player to make his big league debut in Japan.
Before giving way to Roenis Elias, he gave up one run on four hits in 4 2/3 innings.
How Old Is Yusei Kikuchi?
Yusei Kikuchi is 30 years old. He was born on June 17, 1991.