Tackling topics before tonight’s game

Rather than take a deep dive into my “mailbag,” and I realize that I’m getting loose with the language when I refer to it as such, I’ve chosen to tackle a few prevalent questions. No real heavy lifting this morning.

Why are the Orioles wasting their international signing bonus slots instead of using them on the top foreign-born players?

Executive vice president and general manager Mike Elias was very clear with this point while addressing the crowd at FanFest. He wasn’t going to spend just for the sake of spending.

The top talent is gone. The Orioles got a late start and are in the process of trying to establish a presence internationally. It won’t happen in a few weeks or months. So why not use these slots on depth moves?

Dwight Smith Jr. and Keon Broxton are comprising two-thirds of the outfield - when Smith is healthy - and they were obtained with these slots. Pitcher Tom Eshelman joined the organization yesterday in the same manner and provides a needed arm for Triple-A Norfolk’s rotation.

When is the reset and do the bonus slots carry over?

The slot figures change on July 2 and they don’t transfer. Use ‘em or lose ‘em. Unlike some other things in life - in case there was a follow-up question.

This is another reason why it makes sense for Elias to swing these trades.

When are the Orioles going to call up Ryan Mountcastle?

Mountcastle-AB-White-sidebar.jpgExact dates aren’t included in the game notes, but Mountcastle isn’t on the verge of making his major league debut.

He’s only 22 years old and playing his first season at Triple-A. He’s learning to play first base, which is his third position since the Orioles drafted him. And Elias indicated that a switch to the outfield is a possibility.

It makes more sense to keep Mountcastle with Norfolk and hope that other older and more experienced prospects crack the roster in the summer. Outfielder Austin Hays is one example. Outfielder Cedric Mullins is if he starts to hit again. Rushing Mountcastle would be foolish. Bringing up a first baseman who might need to be slotted at designated hitter would be foolish given the current construction of the roster and Mark Trumbo’s possible return.

Are the Orioles going to sign Trey Mancini to an extension?

Questions on the subject haven’t brought any clarity. The organization isn’t outlining its plans for Mancini, perhaps because it hasn’t made a decision.

There are solid arguments on both sides. Wrap him up and make him the face of the franchise, a productive drafted-and-developed player who’s matured into a clubhouse leader and fan favorite. Use him as a trade chip because the team can get a nice return while selling high and Mancini alone isn’t going to speed the Orioles through their rebuild.

Mancini isn’t a kid. He turned 27 in March. He’s arbitration eligible in 2020 and going to become costly for a team that’s been chopping its payroll as if competing on Food Network.

There isn’t a player on the roster with more value than Mancini and the Orioles aren’t in position to hand out expensive contracts. So I’m not sitting on the edge of my seat waiting for a press release on an extension.

I’ll adjust if it arrives unexpectedly.

How’s Chandler Shepherd doing?

OK, you caught me. No one has asked about Shepherd. I’m taking liberties here.

The Orioles claimed Shepherd off waivers from the Cubs on May 22 and assigned him to Norfolk. The Cubs claimed him four days earlier from the Red Sox.

The move by the Orioles was buried because they traded for Broxton on the same day.

Shepherd, 26, appeared in eight games with Triple-A Pawtucket and was 0-5 with a 10.01 ERA and 2.326 WHIP in 29 2/3 innings. He’s made only two relief appearances with Norfolk, allowing three runs in two-thirds of an inning and tossing three scoreless with five strikeouts.

He became a full-time starter in 2018 but so far is working out of the bullpen for Norfolk.

How’s Ryne Ogren doing?

I’ll understand if you never trust me again.

Ogren is the infielder obtained from the Mariners on April 24 for pitcher Mike Wright. He played in 29 games at Single-A Delmarva before last night and batted .253/.330/.295 with two doubles, a triple and seven RBIs.

It’s more interesting to me that he started at four positions, played five and also served as designated hitter.

Ogren has made 13 starts at third base, seven at second (including last night), three at shortstop and one at first. He also caught one inning and if anyone knows the circumstances behind it, please share with the group.

The Mariners selected Ogren, 22, in the 12th round last year out of Elon University in North Carolina.

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