Japanese starting pitchers Yusei Kikuchi and Tomoyuki Sugano have been garnering attention from major league scouts, according to Jason Coskrey of the Japan Times. Several teams sent representatives to see the left-handed Kikuchi (Seibu Lions) and the right-handed Sugano (Yomiuri Giants) square off last Friday. The belief is that the 26-year-old Kikuchi will be the first of the pair to immigrate to the majors, perhaps as early as the upcoming offseason, per Coskrey. Notably, Dennis Lin of The Athletic reported in March that Kikuchi could end up with a contract in the $100MM vicinity if he does head to North America. Kikuchi would be posted, whereas Sugano may have to wait until he becomes an international free agent in 2021 because Yomiuri doesn’t post players, Coskrey explains. By then, he’ll be 32.
Here’s more from around the game:
- In the event the Red Sox upgrade their offense this summer, it will probably come at center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.’s expense, Chad Jennings of The Athletic writes (subscription required). For the most part, Boston’s offense is well positioned, Jennings observes, but Bradley hasn’t helped matters with a .184/.280/.301 line in 236 plate appearances. Barring a turnaround, then, he may be head to the bench or even another team via trade. Speculatively, the Red Sox could seek a solid-hitting corner outfielder on the market and have left fielder Andrew Benintendi take over for JBJ in center.
- The Rangers’ Jurickson Profar has easily outperformed teammate Rougned Odor this year. Despite that, the Rangers’ second base job will continue to belong to Odor, in part because of his contract, according to Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram. Odor still has four and a half years remaining on the six-year, $49.5MM guarantee he landed prior to 2017, and because of that, it seems Texas would rather have him try to figure things out as its starting second baseman than on its bench or in the minors. That’s not to suggest Odor will keep Profar off the diamond, though, as manager Jeff Banister said that the latter could see action five times a week at second, third and short. Profar may even emerge as the Rangers’ full-time shortstop in 2019 if Elvis Andrus opts out of his contract after this season and leaves as a free agent, Wilson points out.
- Both Diamondbacks outfielder Steven Souza Jr. and right-hander Shelby Miller are progressing in their injury recoveries, according to Richard Morin of AZCentral.com. Souza, out since May 22 with a strained right pectoral, is close to embarking on a rehab assignment. And Miller, who’s working back from May 2017 Tommy John surgery, looked great in his fourth rehab appearance Saturday. Pitching at the Single-A level, Miller threw 81 pitches and struck out 10 (with just three hits allowed and no walks) over 6 1/3 innings. He also saw his fastball top out at 95 mph. It’s not yet clear whether Miller will make another rehab appearance, nor is it known if he’ll work as a starter or in relief upon his return to the majors, manager Torey Lovullo suggested. Regardless, the D-backs are “very encouraged” by his progress, Lovullo said.