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Ryo Akiyoshi

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Ryo Akiyoshi (秋吉 亮)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Ryo Akiyoshi has pitched in Nippon Pro Baseball.

Akiyoshi played for Panasonic in the industrial leagues after college. He played for the Japanese national team in the 2012 Asian Championship, pitching 8 perfect innings and fanning 13 for the Gold Medalists. He teamed with Daichi Osera and Hayato Arakaki on a one-hitter against Pakistan and Motoshi Oshiro and Masamitsu Hamano on a two-hitter versus the Philippines, closing out both wins. He was the middle man of a two-hit whitewash of South Korea, succeeding Kentaro Yoshinaga and relieved by Junichi Katayama. He was not named the tourney MVP; that went to Katayama. He also helped Japan win a Gold in the 2013 East Asian Games.

The Yakult Swallows took him in the third round of the 2013 NPB draft. He made the starting rotation as a rookie; pitching the fourth game of the 2014 season, he allowed a homer to the first batter he faced in NPB, Yoshihiro Maru, the 16th pitcher to allow a leadoff homer to his first batter in NPB. He got his first whiff against Yuta Shirahama and left after 5 IP when Akinori Iwamura pinch-hit for him; he had allowed 7 hits and 4 runs (3 earned) in a loss to the Hiroshima Carp, striking out five and walking none. He only got one other start and worked 59 games out of the bullpen that year. He led the team in games pitched, 9 ahead of Tetsuya Yamamoto. He was 7th in the Central League in pitching appearances. He was 3-4 with five saves, a 2.28 ERA and 1.00 WHIP for a fine rookie performance. He did not get any votes for the 2014 Central League Rookie of the Year Award, which went to former national team teammate Osera.

Akiyoshi was 6-1 with a 2.36 ERA in 74 games in 2015, striking out 81 in 76 1/3 IP while allowing only 51 hits and walking 28. He broke Kenichi Matsuoka's team record for games pitched, by one. He got one third-place vote for the 2015 Central League Most Valuable Player Award. He was the league leader in games pitched, two ahead of teammate Logan Ondrusek. In the 2015 Japan Series, he had a 3.86 ERA in three relief stints as Yakult fell to the Softbank Hawks in five games.

In 2016, the sidearm hurler became Yakult's closer when 2015 closer Tony Barnette left for the majors and his successor Ondrusek was let go after abusive behavior during the season. Akiyoshi went 3-4 with 19 saves, a 2.19 ERA and .93 WHIP. His 70 games pitched tied Scott Mathieson for the CL lead and he was 5th in saves (between Marcos Mateo and Shinji Tajima). He was the second NPB pitcher to reach 200 games pitched in their first three seasons, following legendary Kazuhisa Inao. He made his first CL All-Star team. In 2016 NPB All-Star Game 2, he relieved Shoichi Ino in the 7th with a 3-3 tie. Shohei Otani singled, but Akiyoshi retired Brandon Laird and Hideto Asamura. Kenta Imamiya singled in Otani to give the Pacific League the lead then Akiyama got Yuya Hasegawa on a fly. He was replaced in the 8th by Tajima with a 5-4 lead but the PL scored again for a 5-5 final score.

He was on the initial preliminary roster for Japan for the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

He throws a fastball (peak 92.6 mph), slider, sinker and change-up.