From The Archives: Baseball America’s Scouting Dictionary

Image credit: (Photo by Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

Original article posted Nov. 14, 2006.

It happens to everyone at Baseball America. A scout is describing a player’s skills, breaking down a kid’s tools and potential and mindset, and every 10 words or so starts speaking in a tongue so foreign — “chicken-winger” . . . “cankles”. . . “snap dragon” — that you long for an English-to-scout dictionary. Laughs Dodgers scouting director Logan White, “My sister would ask me when I talked about my job, ‘What the heck are you saying?’ She had no idea.”

We know the same thing happens to you when you’re reading BA. To appease the desperate cries, we hereby present the Baseball America Scouting Dictionary, the first time all important scouting terms have been brought together in one handy-dandy, clip-and-save resource. The Baseball America staff came up with all of our favorites, and then Senior Writer Alan Schwarz surveyed dozens of scouts to gather the list of the best 100 terms, from the relatively mundane to the laughably esoteric. He relied on 11 experts to put together the actual dictionary, which we will post on for ready reference, and supplement regularly with terms submitted by other scouts.

A special thanks to our panel of helpful scout-lexicographers, in alphabetical order: Mike Arbuckle (Phillies); Al Avila (Tigers); Eddie Bane (Angels); Doug Carpenter (Indians); Dan Jennings (Marlins); Deacon Jones (Orioles); Deric Ladnier (Royals); Doug Mapson (Giants); Logan White (Dodgers); Mickey White (Marlins); and Jack Zduriencik (Brewers). They took hours to define the terms and develop the sentences illustrating them. Hey, beats explaining themselves every few minutes to baffled family members, right?

-a·bil·i·ty suffix: applied to an action, implying competence or skill in a certain area of the game, i.e., pitchability, hittability, catchability; term often considered not very useful on scouting reports because it lacks detail and explanation. “Jason Repko and Albert Pujols both have hittability — but what kind of hittability are you talking about? It can mean many things.” (Logan White)

al·u·mi·num-bat swing n: a batting stroke, particularly in high school or college, which is either too long or can’t protect the inside part of the plate, hurting its ability to translate to pro ball. “Joe Borchard in Stanford had an aluminum-bat swing. He extended too far and had a spot inside where you could pitch him.” (Mickey White)

arm ac·tion n: the tendency to pitch a ball with the proper arm mechanics, such as to impart strength and leverage in the most efficient and safest possible manner. “Arm action is really hard to define — I have to admit, it’s very murky. It’s kind of like the Supreme Court and obscenity — you know it when you see it.” (Eddie Bane)

Bar·ney Rub·ble n: 1 short and stocky, as in the Flintstones character 2 slightly dopey-looking. “Matt Stairs is kind of a Barney Rubble. Not too many guys make it with that kind of body.” (Anonymous)

base clog·ger n: a runner whose lack of speed and/or baserunning skill routinely keeps him from advancing from first to third on a single or scoring from first on a double. “Jim Thome can really hit, but he’s definitely a base-clogger.” (Deric Ladnier)

bat·boy adj: unimpressively scrawny and skinny. “When you see a guy with a batboy body they look like they should be carrying the ballbag, not actually playing. But middle infielders with batboy bodies usually can get playably stronger with weight training.” (Doug Carpenter)

be·hind prep: positioned with one’s fingers on the backside of the ball, rather than under, over or off to the side of it, thus imparting greater force and accuracy. “An outfielder always wants to stay behind the ball. If you’re an infielder, say a second baseman, it’s not as important because you can make up for it with good footwork and a quick release.” (Jack Zduriencik)

big eat·er n: a hitter who will hit for outright power rather than slash balls down the line or into gaps; often applied to separate different types of corner infielders. “Paul Konerko was a big eater in high school in Scottsdale — you knew he was gonna hit for real power. Todd Helton was a good hitter, but not necessarily a big eater.” (Eddie Bane)

blood·lines  n: pedigree; being related to another accomplished baseball player or athlete, usually a parent. “A lot of people love it if a kid has good bloodlines, but the first question should be whether the guy can play. Genetics don’t always play out.”(Mickey White)

boat race n: a blowout, often leaving scouts unable to properly gauge the ability of the winning side’s starting pitcher; derives from America’s Cup competitions won by five or more miles. “I hate boat races, like games in Oklahoma that get called after five innings, because you don’t really get a good look at the guy you came to see.” (Eddie Bane)

bor·ing adj: driving down into the lower part of the strike zone, as in a drill; to move with heavy sink and lateral movement. “Carlos Zambrano’s sinker has incredible boring action, particularly down and in to righthanders.” (Mike Arbuckle) — bore v syn heavy

bow-and-ar·row adj: applied to a pitching motion, one where the pitcher pulls the ball out the glove directly behind his ear rather than in the proper circle, i.e. Keith Foulke. “Bow-and-arrow guys create deception, because the ball his hidden and then — surprise! Here it is.” (Doug Carpenter)

Bugs Bun·ny change·up n: an offspeed pitch that moves so slowly and leaves the hitter so far out in front that he could swing and miss three times before it reaches the plate (as in Bugs Bunny’s, “One, two, three strikes you’re out!” pitch that confounded the Gas House Gorillas). “Trevor Hoffman has a Bugs Bunny changeup. It’s so funny. It’s comical.” (Dan Jennings)

cak·ey adj: of a body type that is particularly soft and spongy, as in a pound cake. “Guys who are cakey are not quite doughy, but they’re getting there.” (Dan Jennings)

can·kles n pl: a pairing of ankles and calves that show no distinguishing musculature features, as if they were one body part. “Guys with cankles are usually horrendous middle infielders — their first step is usually slow, so they’re destined to be corner infielders.” (Dan Jennings)

car·ry n: extra distance an outfielder’s throw travels, seemingly longer than otherwise expected. “Some players, their good carry means their throws stay in the air longer. It’s a good thing. If you have too much arc, it’s tough to have good carry.” (Jack Zduriencik)

cast v: to lead with one’s elbow while delivering a breaking ball, leaving the hand too far behind the arm and decreasing the potential to impart power spin. “Jason Johnson didn’t get out in front of his breaking ball last night — he slowed his arm and casted his curveballs.” (Mike Arbuckle)

cei·ling n: the maximum level of skill to which a player or prospect can conceivably develop at his peak; syn upside. “Delmon Young’s physical tools allow him to have the ceiling of a frontline all-star caliber player for years.” (Mike Arbuckle)

cheat v: primarily regarding a hitter’s approach to fastballs, to stride and swing too early in anticipation of a fastball, and in so doing leaving one unable to adjust to anything offspeed. “You see hitters cheating when they don’t have the bat speed to catch up to good fastballs — otherwise they’ll be tardy and kill someone in the opposing dugout.” (Doug Carpenter)

chick·en wing·er n: a pitcher who leads with his elbow with limited extension, shortening his delivery into a more awkward and less fluid motion; generally applied to lefthanded pitchers without strong fastballs. “We scout away from chicken-wingers — you don’t see many of them today. Billy Wagner is a one. John Tudor was a classic chicken-winger.” (Mike Arbuckle)

close the gap v: to cut off hits to the outfield that might otherwise reach the left- or right-center field walls. “Devon White could really close the gap, because he had the speed, first-step quickness and angle management.” (Jack Zduriencik)

come·back adj: as in a pitch, moving from a few inches inside over the plate at the final moment. “Greg Maddux has a comeback fastball — lefthanded hitters flinch at it because it starts right at them but it breaks back over the plate.” (Deric Ladnier)

com·mand  n or v 1 : the ability to throw pitches at the intended spots within the strike zone 2 to exhibit command. “Control is the ability to throw strikes — command is the ability to throw quality strikes.” (Curt Schilling)

com·pact adj: applied to either a swing or pitching motion, efficient and with no wasted movement. “Compact doesn’t necessarily mean quick, but it looks quick because there are shorter paths to what the player is doing.” (Logan White)

cush·ion v: to field a ball in such a relaxed way that it settles easily into the glove ready to be smoothly transferred to the throwing hand. “When a guy cushions the ball, he’s fielding it lovingly — it implies a confidence with what he’s doing. An ease.” (Deacon Jones)


cut off ex·ten·sion v: to deliver a pitch without the elbow too close to the body, impeding the proper exertion of force and follow-through. “We also call that having alligator arms — put your arm at your side and try to throw, you’ll see. When you cut off extension you don’t have your arm in the right place to deliver the ball.” (Doug Carpenter)

cut·ter n: a fastball that, because the fingers are held slightly off to the side, breaks hard inside to lefties when thrown from a righthander or vice versa; a pitch that has speed of fastball but not quite the break of a slider. syn cut fastball. “Mariano Rivera has the best cutter out there — he throws it to lefties and boom, it’s right in on their hands.” (Jack Zduriencik)

D·F·E abbrev v or n 1 : draft, follow and evaluate 2 : a player selected as a draft-and-follow or recommended for that path; syn DNF (draft and follow).

dart-throw·er n: a pitcher who excessively aims the ball, implying some hesitancy or timidity. “Vern Ruhle used to be a dart-thrower for me, but then he got a little more confidence and let it go.” (Deacon Jones)

down·hill adj: applied to a pitcher, throwing the ball from the highest release point possible, thereby applying a steeper angle to the pitch and giving the impression of extra downward movement; does not necessarily imply an over-the-top delivery. “Throwing downhill makes it harder to hit the baseball — Roy Oswalt does it really well for a smaller guy, and Curt Schilling’s another example.” (Jack Zduriencik)

draft-and-fol·low n: a player who, after being selected in the amateur draft, elects to attend junior college, thereby allowing his drafting club to continue to evaluate and perhaps sign him until a week before the following draft; practice eliminated by new draft rules as of 2007. “I liked Andy Pettitte out of high school but thought he’d be better off spending a year filling out in junior college, so I put him down as a draft-and-follow.” (Dan Jennings)

draft·i·tis n: an affliction whereby a draft-eligible player withers under scouts’ scrutiny and fails to display the skills he once did. “Ryan Howard had draftitis at Southwest Missouri, but the joke was on me. I allowed myself not to see him because we’d heard he was so bad.” (Mickey White)

drop-and-drive n: the tendency for a pitcher to plant his lead leg and flex at the knee such that his body gets very low to the ground while delivering the ball; connotes power pitcher such as Tom Seaver, though is used less positively today because drop-and-drive pitchers often have difficulty staying on top of the ball. “Roy Oswalt is an example of a drop-and-drive pitcher, but there aren’t that many today. It’s more stay tall and fall.” (Mike Arbuckle)

Eck·stein n: 1 a player, often undersized, who has seemingly little physical ability but exhibits enough desire and hustle to remain a prospect 2 a player who after reaching the major leagues is a surprisingly difficult out. “Placido Polanco is an Eckstein — a pain in the ass player who keeps coming at you, a get-dirty type guy. Chone Figgins is, too.” (Deacon Jones)

fall-down range n: such limited lateral mobility that the only way to reach a ground ball would be to fall on top of it; usually used for corner infielders. “Frank Thomas at first base has fall-down range. So did Mo Vaughn.” (Mike Arbuckle)

fence shy adj: applied to an outfielder or corner infielder, having a tendency to give up on fly or foul balls at the wall for fear of a collision; cautious. “Aaron Rowand will always sacrifice his body to make a catch. Other guys are more fence shy and are afraid of getting hurt.” (Jack Zduriencik)

five o·clock hit·ter n: a hitter who shows tremendous power but only in batting practice, unable to carry it over against game-speed pitching. “Russell Branyan was a notorious five o’clock hitter, but he has turned the corner.” (Mike Arbuckle)

five-tool play·er n: a position player who exhibits all five of the primary physical skills required of them, i.e., hitting for average and power, running, fielding and throwing. “Derrek Lee in his good years was a five-tool player. That sounds strange for a first baseman, but he can actually do everything.” (Logan White)

frame v: as in a catcher, to receive pitches just on or off the strike zone in such a manner as to convince the umpire that the pitch was a strike; to smoothly bring such pitches over the plate. “All good major league catchers frame the ball — it’s a must. Mike Piazza has a below-average arm, but he frames pitches well so he helps his pitchers that way.” (Doug Mapson)

frin·gy adj: on the borderline of being useful in the major leagues; slightly worse than playable. “You find a lot of guys who have two above-average pitches, but their changeup is fringy.” (Mike Arbuckle)

gap-to-gap adj: having the tendency to hit doubles and triples to left-center and right-center fields, rather than shooting balls down the lines; implies limited power as much as good speed. “Craig Biggio had some power in his prime, but he was more of a gap-to-gap hitter — and a good one.” (Mike Arbuckle)

good/bad face n: 1 having an either strong or weak chin 2 having a face that implies athleticism or a hard-nosed attitude toward sports; primarily used by older rather than younger scouts. “You sometimes have to fight to get some scouts past a guy with a bad face. I thought it was crazy, but there’s something to it. You see almost no one in the big leagues with a bad face.” (Eddie Bane)

gid·dy-up n: the tendency for a fastball to appear as if it explodes or rises as it crosses the plate, an illusion often caused by a smooth delivery that hides how fast the pitch will be. “Joel Zumaya had a good fastball in high school, but it didn’t have the incredible giddy-up that it has now.” (Al Avila) syn late life

hap·py feet n pl : the tendency for a hitter moving his feet in the batter’s box as if to start toward first base while making contact, often too early to remain in proper batting position. “Ichiro is one of the few hitters who has the hand-eye coordination to get away with having happy feet.” (Deric Ladnier)

heavy adj: 1 as in a pitch, having hard downward action that will often rattle the bat in a hitter’s hands 2 accentuated forceful movement, perhaps laterally. “You love to see guys with heavy action on their pitches, because when they get to the plate they overbear on hitters.” (Doug Carpenter)

heavy-legged adj: running with a laboring stride and effort; has less to do with weight or musculature of legs than the lack of grace or efficiency a runner exhibits. “It’s really hard to find a catcher who isn’t heavy-legged. That’s one of the things that make Jason Kendall and Joe Mauer special.” (Doug Mapson)

hitch n: a hitting trigger in which the batter drops his hands up or down rather than back, keeping him from starting his swing properly. “Matt Williams had a huge hitch coming out of UNLV, but had the hand-eye coordination and strength to make it work for him.” (Doug Mapson)

in·stincts  n pl: the trait in some players to immediately determine what will happen on the field, as if knowing in advance; usually applied in judging whether a fly ball will drop or be caught, anticipating pitch sequences or in defensive positioning. “A player with good instincts will already be moving toward a ground ball because of the pitch or the bat angle. Mark Kotsay is a guy who doesn’t have one tool that stands out but his instincts make the whole package.” (Al Avila)

KP abrev: can’t play; opposite of CP (can play). “When we put down KP for an amateur, that won’t even be an organizational player — even Triple-A or Double-A. He’s probably just a college player. No interest.” (Logan White)

kill zone n: the area of the strike zone in which a hitter or pitcher enjoys particular success. “Dave Winfield’s kill zone was away from him because his arms were so long. You wanted to try to bust him in, like Derek Jeter.” (Mickey White) syn wheelhouse (for hitters)

life n: movement of a pitch, but only within the strike zone. “Life can be run, cut, ride, sink — it’s that little extra surge of movement.” (Al Avila)

lift n: the tendency to swing in such a manner as to give batted balls consistent loft and therefore distance. “Robin Ventura was one of the best college hitters I ever saw — you knew that when he learned to add some loft, he would really hit some home runs.” (Jack Zduriencik)

load n: a hesitation in a windup in which the pitcher stays back before starts his full delivery, often helping him keep consistent mechanics and release point. “Jered Weaver has great load — he stays back really long over the rubber. A lot of kids rush, especially out of the stretch.” (Eddie Bane)

long adj: applied to a swing, implies that the barrel of the bat takes an extended arc to the ball; opposite of short or compact. “If you have a long swing it’s tough to make work, unless you have the pure leverage and strength of a Richie Sexson or Mark McGwire.” (Doug Mapson)

loo·py adj: lacking the proper bite and sharpness, as in a breaking ball, implying a soft, predictable arc. “It’s very hard to have a plus loopy curveball. Guys make money hitting loopy into the upper deck.” (Doug Carpenter) syn flippy

lose your ath·lete v: to suffer a decline in quickness and agility while physically maturing, as opposed to outright laziness. “It’s always disappointing when a great high school shortstop loses his athlete and has to wind up at first base.” (Logan White)

Mad·dux n: a relatively short righthanded pitcher who, without an above-average fastball, might still succeed primarily with control and intelligence. “A lot of mistakes are made when they think someone’s a Maddux. He’s a pretty rare animal.” (Logan White)

make·up n 1 : competitive maturity 2 : the ability to withstand adversity and distraction; focus. “We never had to worry about Scott Rolen becoming as good as he could be. His makeup was off the charts.” (Mike Arbuckle)

mar·lin n: a tale about a prospect that is hard to believe; fish story. “Art Stewart’s one of my favorite people in the world, but he’ll always say, ‘Right after you left, the kid hit two homers, one of them 600 feet!’ You just sit back and smile and go, ‘marlin’.” (Eddie Bane)

max-effort adj: exhibiting grunts and other signs of exertion, oftentimes more than would be seemingly necessary; laboring. “Max-effort guys, it seems like nothing is easy about the game. Kevin Appier was max-effort — he threw everything he had into every pitch.” (Eddie Bane)

mus·cle v: 1 to impart a forced effort in either pitching or swinging 2 to use extra exertion. “Everyone will occasionally muscle the ball, but young guys don’t realize that it’s better to be free and easy. Their mechanics go out the window when they muscle it.” (Doug Carpenter)

NP abbrev: non-prospect; won’t reach the major leagues. “You want to use NP and other shorthand like that because people look over our shoulders in the stands, friends and parents, and you don’t want to crush a kid.” (Doug Carpenter) synKP

pa·ra·chute v: 1 : to float toward a target, as in an outfield throw without enough oomph behind it 2 : to fall out of the strike zone, as in a changeup. “Bernie Williams’s throws tended to parachute, but because of his instincts and accuracy his arm was playable.” (Doug Mapson)

pie-throw·er n: a pitcher who, while throwing a pitch, holds his palm too far under the ball rather than having his fingers on top of it, as if throwing a pie. “If you’re a pie-thrower, you tend to end up in the zone a lot with your pitches flattening out. And you’ll very well have a short career — it puts tremendous stress on the elbow and shoulder.” (Mike Arbuckle)

ping hit·ter n: a weak hitter who doesn’t swing the bat or connect with any force or resulting power; term precedes aluminum bats, so does not necessarily imply aluminum-bat swing. “We’re not looking for ping hitters. We want guys who drive the ball with authority.” (Doug Mapson)

pitch re·cog·ni·tion n: 1 a hitter’s ability to identify the type and location of pitches almost immediately out of the pitcher’s hand 2 the act of adding the situation (man on third, one out, etc.) to the decision to swing. “You can tell that Albert Pujols has great pitch recognition because he has a balanced stride with his weight back, and he swings easy. He knows when a pitch isn’t a strike and won’t be fooled.” (Doug Carpenter)

plate dis·ci·pline n: the ability to not swing at pitches out of the strike zone, or pitches that are less hittable than those that might follow; syn strike-zone judgment. “Kevin Youkilis sees the ball immediately out of the pitcher’s hand — hitters with great discipline see and identify pitches very early.” (Mickey White)

play·able adj: perhaps below average but adequate enough to survive in the major leagues. “David Eckstein doesn’t have a strong arm at shortstop, but it’s playable because of his quickness and instincts.” (Doug Mapson)

plus adj: above average, usually compared to average major leaguer. “Derek Jeter had plus arm strength in high school — it was body control that he needed work on because he was growing into his frame.” (Mickey White)

plus-plus adj: far above average; outstanding. “Rafael Furcal has a plus-plus arm — he’s so fluid and has such great finish. The ball leaves his hand real easy and explodes at the end.” (Logan White); syn double-plus

plow·horse n: a player who grinds out solid performances after most would have expected them to let up. “Darin Erstad is a real plowhorse — he’s like a farmer who works in the field all day long.” (Deric Ladnier)

pole-to-pole adj: the ability to hit with power throughout all 90 degrees of fair territory; whereas gap-to-gap implies the ability to hit doubles and triples to the middle of the park, pole-to-pole connotes dominance to all fields. “Ryan Howard has legitimate pole-to-pole power. He can hit them out anywhere.” (Mike Arbuckle)

pop v: to select a player in the draft, often somewhat unexpectedly. “It’s hard to believe now, but when I popped Manny Ramirez in the first round in 1991, people were really surprised.” (Mickey White)

pop time n: the time (in seconds), on a stolen-base attempt, between the time that a pitch hits the catcher’s glove and when his throw hits the middle-infielder’s glove. “The typical pop time for major leaguers is two seconds flat, but Yadier Molina has an impressive pop time of about 1.85.” (Mike Arbuckle)

pop·eye v or n: 1 to elicit suspicion that a player is taking steroids or other illegal performance-enhancing substances 2 a player suspected of using such substances. “I gotta tell you, it’s not really hard to look at a player and see that he’s popeyeing you.” (Anonymous)

pull off v: to turn one’s shoulder toward third base (for a righthanded hitter) while batting, creating a hitting position that is too open and inside-oriented to reach an outside pitch. “Manny Ramirez and Derek Jeter never pull off the ball — they keep their head down and their hands back. That’s why they have so much power to right-center field.” (Deacon Jones)

quick·ness n: 1 the ability of a defensive player to take an immediate first step toward a ground or fly ball 2 the speed with which a basestealer can reach top speed toward the next base. “If you have first-step quickness, you’re going to get to balls faster than someone who is just really fast.” (Al Avila)

re·coil v orn: 1 to pull one’s pitching arm back toward the body after delivering the ball, often violently 2 the movement imparted while recoiling. “When pitchers recoil they think they’re getting more velocity, but they’re really not. Guys who recoil are usually max-effort guys — they’re not that smooth.” (Eddie Bane) syn bounceback


run n: the act of a pitch moving laterally, usually from righthanders inside on righthy hitters. “A cutter is the opposite of a runner because it moves inside to lefthanders. A righthanded runner breaks righthanded bats, because it runs in hitters’ hands while they try to shorten their swing.” (Dan Jennings)

sign·a·bil·i·ty n: the perceived chance that a draft pick will turn professional rather than enter or continue college. “Most area scouts worry too much about signability — they eliminate a guy because they assume he won’t sign, when that’s really the scouting director’s job to worry about.” (Mickey White)

slash·er n: a player who does not apply lift to the ball, instead surviving on hard ground balls and line drives; a player without power but with the speed and bat control to survive. “Willie McGee back in the day was a slasher. Kenny Lofton, too — he’ll shorten his swing and hit the ball the other way and run.” (Logan White) syn slapper

slot n, v or adj: 1 the angle the pitching arm makes to the ground or body while delivering the ball 2 to pay a draft pick a bonus that is comparable with what players picked around him received; implying such a bonus. “I think you change a pitcher’s slot only as a last measure — you’re messing with muscle memory, and sometimes they can’t go back to the old slot afterward.” (Logan White)

slurve n: a pitch that because of its speed and break acts halfway between a slider and a curveball. “Jeff Weaver changes speeds so much on his breaking ball it can come off as a slurve — there’s a 74-76-mph one that’s more like a curve and a 78-82-mph one that’s more like a slider.” (Deacon Jones) adj slurvy

snap dra·gon n: a particularly nasty curveball with a perfect snap of the wrist. “I took one look at that snap dragon and my knees buckled as much as the hitter’s.” (Dan Jennings); syn yakker, yellow hammer

solid-average adj: average, but with greater consistency than merely average would imply. “Dan Uggla has a solid-average arm at second base. It’s more reliable than a guy who’s just average. It’s more trustworthy.” (Doug Carpenter)

special player n: an amateur prospect who, because he is represented by Scott Boras and deemed by the agent to have particular promise, will probably cost a lot of money and time to get under contract. “Jered Weaver was a special player and was worth it. You don’t stay away from those guys in the draft, but it’s a consideration.” (Eddie Bane) syn icon player

spin off v: to pitch with such force and lateral momentum as to land on the side of one’s foot and move violently toward first or third base, out of proper fielding position. “Bob Gibson spun off a ton, and most lefthanders spin off a bit.” (Eddie Bane)

stab·ber n: a pitcher who stops his motion soon after removing the ball from his glove and sticks his arm toward the ground away from his body; syn plunger or sweeper. “Very few stabbers have much success — it breaks the rhythm of their arm moving in a circle. Rick Sutcliffe was a little bit of one.” (Dan Jennings) stabv

stay tall and fall v: as in a pitcher, to remain primarily upright during his windup and let gravity take his body toward the plate rather than pushing off more strenuously lower to the ground. “A vast majority of pitchers today stay tall and fall. It’s an easier delivery.” (Mike Arbuckle)

throw ac·ross bo·dy v: to pitch in a manner where the arm must twist slightly to redirect the ball toward the plate, passing over the chest rather than being open and unimpeded; caused by, in the case of a righthander, the lead foot landing about three inches too far to the right, leaving the arm having to compensate for the pitch to travel toward the target. “We like guys to be closed a little bit, but when you throw across your body, you’re asking for arm trouble. Joe Kennedy is probably the most severe guy in the big leagues right now.” (Eddie Bane)

tight·ly wound adj: 1 having a cut and strong physique with almost no apparent fat; can imply inflexibility 2 having a uptight mental approach to the game; opposite of loose. “Baseball players who have played other sports can enter pro ball tightly wound, but they get looser the more they focus on the game.” (Jack Zduriencik)

tilt n: movement of a pitch, primarily a slider, which takes place late at the plate as it falls off the hitting plane. “Randy Johnson had just about the best tilt I’d ever seen. Francisco Liriano’s is pretty impressive, too.” (Dan Jennings)

tool n: a physical skill used on the baseball field, usually confined to position players as hitting for average, hitting for power, running, fielding and throwing. “When you’re scouting an amateur player, you want to see at least two above-average tools — because then you know the guy has a shot of being a major league regular.” (Logan White)

tool shed n: 1 a five-tool player 2 a player who exhibits not only the five traditional tools but others such as quickness and agility. “When you think about everything he could do, Bo Jackson was a tool shed. I felt honored to watch him play.” (Jack Zduriencik)

trans·fer n: the fielder’s act of taking the ball out of his glove and getting it in throwing position; applies to both infielders and outfielders. “Bill Mazeroski and Derek Jeter both had excellent transfers — both smooth without any wasted time at all.” (Jack Zduriencik)

trig·ger n: a hitter’s timing mechanism, in which he brings his hands back before moving forward in a hitting motion, that initiates the swing. “It’s impossible to get the bat going through the zone if you don’t have the proper trigger. You’re going to be late on the ball.” (Doug Mapson)

12-to-6 adj: Traveling from the equivalent of the 12 on a standard clock face down to the 6, as in an over-the-top curveball; also 1-to-7, etc; syn nose-to-toes. “Bert Blyleven’s curve was a perfect 12-to-6 — it moved from the catcher’s head right down to the plate.” (Mickey Whiter

usa·bil·i·ty n: The capability of a prospect’s tool to actually be of use in game competition. “I’ve seen plenty of young pitchers with great fastballs but no usability, because they can’t control it.” (Dan Jennings)

wet-news·pa·per adj: Hitting with no authority, as if with a roll of damp newsprint. “When you see a wet-newspaper hitter, balls he hits have no sound. It’s just a thud and it doesn’t go anywhere.” (Deric Ladnier)

yel·low ham·mer n: An exceptionally good curveball. “When you see a kid in high school who can throw an 85-mph yellow hammer, one that starts at the shoulders and ends at the knees, you’re pretty excited.” (Deric Ladnier)

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