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October 19, 2009

Rangers dispatch young lefty to woo young lefty

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels confirmed that left-hander Derek Holland was in Japan on Monday to meet with Yusei Kikuchi, an 18-year-old left-hander who is considering whether to bypass the Nippon Professional Baseball draft to play in the United States.

Holland, who just completed his rookie season, accompanied Jim Colborn, the Rangers' director of Pacific Rim operations, in what were described by Japanese media as first-round meetings with Kikuchi. To his credit, Kikuchi understands that he will have to pitch in the minor leagues and picked Holland's brain on the subject.

No offers have been made by any club to Kikuchi, who is expected to be drafted by multiple teams in the NPB draft. His fastball has topped out at 96 mph, and he also throws a slider and a curveball. He is the second amateur from Japan who the Rangers have courted in the past year. They made a four-year, $7 million offer to Junichi Tazawa, who elected to sign for less with Boston.

-- Jeff Wilson

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