|Hiroshima Toyo Carp – No. 33|
|Born:March 11, 1990|
|June 30, 2012 for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp|
Early Baseball Career
A native of Tokyo, he played as third baseman for Shiojiri High School, but his team never made it past the qualifying round for Summer Koshien. He enrolled in Chukyo Gakuin University in Gifu Prefecture, and from the spring of his 1st year, he played as shortstop as his school competed in the Tokai Region Baseball League. He won a triple-crown on his second year, and throughout his university career, he was awarded League Best Nine 5 times. His dynamic fielding earned him praise when he participated in the US-Japan University Baseball Championship Series.
He was selected as the Hiroshima Toyo Carp's 2nd pick during the autumn 2011 professional baseball draft. He wished to be given Manager Kenjiro Nomura's previous jersey number 7, but was instead assigned the number 33.
He appeared in his first official game on June 29 as a pinch runner for Tetsuya Okubo. From July onwards, he filled in the role of 2nd baseman after Akihiro Higashide was sidelined by an injury in his right middle finger. He appeared in 63 games, and batted in 12 runs.
After Higashide injured his knee during spring training, Kikuchi eventually became fixed in the starting line-up. On May 12, he and Yoshihiro Maru hit two grand slams in the game against the Chunichi Dragons, the 22nd time it happened in NPB history. This was the first time in both the player's professional careers to hit a grand slam. Maru hit one on the 4th inning, and Kikuchi followed on the 6th. A plaque commemorating the team's two-grand-slam game was installed beyond the left field wall at Mazda Stadium two days later.
On September 26, he recorded his 497th assist as second baseman, breaking the previous NPB record held by Chunichi's Masahiro Araki in 2005. He finished the season with 528 assists, setting an all-time NPB high. Three days later on the match with the Giants, he batted in his 50th sac bunt, beating the franchise record held by Higashide in 2001, and also topped the league.
He appeared in 141 games of the 144 on the schedule, and though he batted only .247, he hit 11 home runs and drove in 57. During off-season, he was chosen to play for the national team in the 2013 Baseball Challenge against Chinese Taipei.
- 週刊ベースボール (Weekly Baseball) July 2, 2012 issue p.57
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