Say What? A Guide to Baseball Scout Lingo

by Greg in

Not to be compulsive, but it is 209 days until CCBL’s opening day on June 15. Okay, to be compulsive that is precisely:

-18,057,600 seconds-300,960 minutes -5016 hours -29 weeks (rounded down)

The league announced this week that opening day is June 15, 2007. The All-star game is to be played Saturday, July 28 (rain date July 29) at a location still to be determined. The playoffs begin Friday, Aug. 10.

And you can bet that this exquisite photo (right) of scouts published recently on Baseball will be familiar to anyone attending the Cape Cod Baseball League’s All-Star game next summer.

Now, look at the photo again and place yourself there in the middle of those radar guns. Imagine a tall drink of water on the mound delivering a 3-1 pitch. The batter swings and misses. A scout turns to you and says, “that’s just aluminum bat swinging.”


“Yeah,” another says in between spitting out sunflower seed shells. “He’s got draftitis.”

“He was supposed to have 5 tools but he’s missing a hammer and a screwdriver,” snorts another.

Welcome to scout lingo. Baseball America (subscription only) has published a useful glossary of vocabulary you will need on the Cape if you find yourself sitting next to one of the many scouts who hang out at games in the CCBL. Here is a preview of some terms from that glossary:

Baseball America’s Scouting Dictionary

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

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)