Adiel Palma

From BR Bullpen

Adiel Palma López

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 6' 1", Weight 194 lb.

Adiel Palma has won several strikeout titles in Cuba and has also been a key figure on the Cuban national team, including winning the Gold Medal game of the 2004 Olympics.

Palma pitched for Cuba in the 1986 World Junior Championship and 1987 World Junior Championship but it would be 16 years before he next represented Cuba in international events. Palma first achieved notice at age 20 with Cienfuegos, leading the 1990-1991 Serie Nacional's Zona Occidental in strikeouts (82) and tied for the lead in innings pitched (105), complete games (9) and hits allowed (99). In 1993-1994, Palma walked 63 to lead the Serie Nacional.

In the 1994-1995 Serie Nacional, Adiel led the loop in innings pitched (126 2/3) and hits allowed (125) and ties for the walk lead (54). He threw a no-hitter on December 25, 1999. Palma went 2-8 in 2000-2001 with a 6.56 ERA. In 2001-2002, Adiel was 8-13 with a 5.43 ERA and allowed 186 hits in 141 innings; he was 9 hits away from league leader Jonder Martínez.

Palma improved to 14-4, 2.21 in 2002-2003 with only 126 hits in 158 2/3 IP and 179 strikeouts. He led the league in wins and strikeouts and was second to Alay Soler in ERA. He won the Most Valuable Pitcher award for his efforts and was added to the Cuban national team.

The 33-year-old was with Cuba for the 2003 Baseball World Cup (1-0, 0.00, 0 H, 6 K in 5 IP) and 2003 Olympic Qualifier, in which he won the Gold Medal game, topping Team Canada with a 11-strikeout, 2-hit, 8-inning masterpiece.

The junkballer was 4-7 with a 2.66 ERA in 2003-2004 (the Japanese wikipedia credits him with a 4-8 record; the 2005 Baseball Almanac says 4-7), placing 8th in the Serie Nacional in ERA. The record might look poor but it was better than the team average as the rest of the Cienfuegos staff was 23-55 (or 23-54).

Palma was a top performer in the 2004 Olympics, going 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA. He led the Summer Games in wins and innings pitched (19 1/3) and was 5th in ERA behind Chris Oxspring, Norge Vera, Cienfuegos teammate Norberto Gonzalez and Wei-Lun Pan. His 16 strikeouts ranked third behind Daisuke Matsuzaka and Chih-Chia Chang. He came in the Gold Medal game in the 5th inning as Cuba's third hurler; he walked 3 and allowed 4 hits in 3 2/3 innings but struck out five and allowed just one run. After Gavin Fingleson and Brett Roneberg opened the 9th with singles, he was relieved by Danny Betancourt, who got out of the jam to protect the 6-2 lead. Palma picked up the victory in the Gold Medal game win.

In the 2004-2005 Serie Nacional, Palma won his third strikeout title with 143, one ahead of Luis Borroto. He was 8-8 with a 2.50 ERA. In the Super Liga season that followed, he was 4-0 with a 2.10 ERA to lead in winning percentage and ERA; he trailed Pedro Luis Lazo and Alberto Bicet by one for the most victories.

Palma put on another strong national team performance in the 2005 Baseball World Cup, with a 2-0, 3.38 record. He struggled in the quarterfinals against Team USA, allowing 2 runs in 3 1/3 IP before being relieved by Lazo. Palma had the lead at the time, though, as the USA's Brian Bannister was being lit up far worse.

The crafty southpaw was 5-9 with a 5.02 ERA in the 2005-2006 Serie Nacional, striking out 109, 8 behind Borroto, the leader. In the 2006 World Baseball Classic, Palma had a 6.14 ERA. He allowed 4 runs (2 earned) in relief in the Gold Medal game, in a 10-6 loss to Japan. Overall, he tied Dontrelle Willis for third in runs allowed (8), trailing only two South African hurlers, and he also tied for second in walks (5). Palma was 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in the 2006 Central American and Caribbean Games.

Palma was better in the 2006 Intercontinental Cup, going 2-0 with a 2.20 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 16 1/3 IP. He tied Darwin dela Calzada for second in strikeouts, one behind leader Chien-Fu Yang. He also tied for the most wins, even with David Bergman, Shota Oba, Masahiko Morifuku and Tom Stuifbergen. Adam Blackley beat him out for honors as the top left-handed hurler in the competition. In the 2006 COPABE qualifier for the 2008 Olympics, the veteran portsider posted a 2-0, 0.71 record with 23 strikeouts in 12 2/3 IP to help Cuba qualify.

Palma's record in the 2006-2007 Serie Nacional was 9-5, 2.89 as he returned to form somewhat. He fanned 95 in 109 innings, five strikeouts behind leader Aroldis Chapman. In the 2007 Pan American Games, Palma was 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA and struck out 19 in 13 2/3 innings, allowing only 8 hits and no walks. He easily led the Pan Am Games in strikeouts that year, nine ahead of runner-up Tyson Ross. He was the only pitcher with multiple wins in those Games. He fanned 10 in a win over the Mexican national team, allowing a Luis Alfonso García solo home run and no other runs in six innings of work. In the Gold Medal game, he surrendered just one run in 7 1/3 innings against the US for the victory, the third time he won the Gold Medal game in a major international event in four years. The US's only run came in the 4th when Jordan Danks doubled and Justin Smoak singled him home.

Palma was 1-0 with a 0.87 ERA in the 2007 Baseball World Cup. He was shaky against Canada (which failed to make the final eight), allowing 6 hits and one run in 3 2/3 innings before being relieved by Norberto Gonzalez. He was sharper against Mexico, throwing 6 2/3 shutout innings for the victory.

In the 2007-2008 Serie Nacional, the 37-year-old was 3-8, albeit with a 3.22 ERA, and did not rank among the league's top 10 in any department. Cienfuegos was just 33-57 that year.

Through 2006-2007, Palma was 136-157 in 20 seasons of play in Cuba for a weak Cienfuegos club, striking out 1,743 in 2,316 1/3 innings, allowing 2,424 hits and 973 walks and throwing 172 wild pitches. He had also saved 13 contests. He was 14-0 for the Cuban national team through 2007.

Palma allowed 8 hits, 4 runs and 3 homers in 6 innings in the 2008 Olympics - all 3 homers came in a start against Canada as Mike Saunders went deep once and Nick Weglarz twice.

Palma retired following the 2008 Olympics with a 139-165 career record in Cuban league play. His 1,816 strikeouts were third all-time in Cuba at the time of his retirement.