The Boston Red Sox are among several major league teams lining up to woo 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 Japanese amateur pitcher to draw interest from major leagues teams.
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.
The Red Sox drew criticism in Japan last year when they signed amateur pitcher Junichi Tazawa. He was passed over by Japan's professional teams in last year's amateur draft after he said he wanted to play in the United States.
Boston has a strong scouting network in Japan and already has four Japanese pitchers on its major league roster: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hideki Okajima, Takashi Saito, and Tazawa.
Japanese teams are not allowed to make offers to amateurs before the draft. No rule prevents American teams from pursuing them, although Japanese baseball officials believe there is a 'gentlemen's agreement' making amateurs off limits.
Nippon Professional Baseball has requested that Kikuchi not receive an offer from any major league clubs before Japan's amateur draft on Oct. 29.
All 12 Japanese professional teams have set up meetings with Kikuchi, who has also said he would eventually like to play in the U.S.