It’s time for the second part of our mailbag. Questions may be edited for length, style and clarity.
Question: What is the latest on when John Means returns? From: Jeff Briggs via Facebook
Answer: Jeff, I think sometime in September is a realistic return date for Means.
Question: If John Means is not back until September, is he eligible for the postseason? From: Rob Jefferson via email
Answer: Yes, Rob. Means could still be eligible for the postseason roster even if he’s not activated until after September 1st. A player who joins the Orioles from outside the organization after August 31st is not eligible for the postseason roster.
Question: Are you hearing any complaints about the MLB Ballpark App? A lot of people still like having tickets as souvenirs. From: Tom Paullin via email
Answer: Tom, I have heard some complaints about the MLB Ballpark App. I think it’s a lot easier to transfer tickets on it than mailing them to a friend or waiting for them outside the ballpark to hand them off. I have heard many comments from fans that they enjoyed keeping tickets from memorable events, but this way they’re harder to counterfeit. I like the convenience of it.
Question: What’s the latest on DL Hall? From: Mitch via email
Answer: Mitch, the Orioles sent Hall to Sarasota last month to try to regain his strength while continuing to throw on the back fields. He has not appeared in a game since then, and I’m not sure when he will.
Question: If Grayson Rodriguez is as good as hoped for over his next few starts, is there a need to trade for a starting pitcher? From: Greg Fuchs via email
Answer: Greg, I think the Orioles could still trade for another starting pitcher just because Rodriguez, Kyle Bradish, Dean Kremer and Tyler Wells haven’t pitched full seasons of big league ball, much less the postseason. The Orioles are fortunate that of the group, only Bradish has missed starts, and that’s because he was hit in the foot by a line drive in his first start.
Rodriguez was excellent on Saturday, and I think he’s going to be an excellent starter and get better as the season progresses. Having another experienced starter in addition to Kyle Gibson would allow the Orioles to rest one of the less experienced ones.
Question: The infield is crowded with talent, including Norfolk. Does Jorge Mateo have any options left? Also, Ryan O’Hearn has shown consistent hitting and top-notch fielding. Could Ryan Mountcastle be a trade chip? From: Larry Schultz via email
Answer: Larry, Jorge Mateo does not have any options left. It’s possible the Orioles could trade an experienced player like Mountcastle but his value may not be terribly high now because of his disappointing numbers this season.
Question: Does Brandon Hyde decide who gets up in the bullpen or does he just say get up a lefty or something along those lines? From: Troy Kaster via email
Answer: Troy, Hyde does decide who’s going to warm up in the bullpen? Those decisions and the possible use of relievers are discussed before each game.
Question: Will the automated strike zone be adjusted for different size batters? From: Russ Vriezen via Facebook
Answer: Russ, I don’t think the automated balls and strikes system will come to the major leagues. I think they’re more likely to put in a system with a few challenges per game. That would make for more interesting strategy and more accurate balls and strikes calls.
But, yes, it’s adjusted for the size of batters.
Question: How many rounds in the Rule 4 draft are there? What determines the pecking order? Purely the assessment by scouts? Do scouts have widely divergent opinions of top players, or is it generally a consensus? From Marty Adams vis email
Answer: Marty, the Rule 4, or First-Year Player Draft has 20 rounds. There are competitive-balance picks and compensatory picks. MLB has a formula that combines revenues, winning percentage and market size, and competitive-balance picks are awarded to teams that are in the bottom 10 in revenues and market size. Some teams chose after the first round. Others choose after the second round.
Compensatory picks are awarded to teams that lose a free agent who has refused to accept a qualifying offer and signed elsewhere. Picks are also awarded to teams that weren’t able to sign a high draft choice. The Orioles received a pick because they didn’t sign third-round pick Nolan McLean a year ago.
There’s no consensus on draft picks. It’s pretty rare that teams agree on who the top prospect is. Even when the Orioles drafted Adley Rutschman as the first overall pick, there was some thought they might select shortstop Bobby Witt Jr., who other teams would have selected.
There were a handful of players the Orioles considered for their top pick in 2022 when Jackson Holliday was selected first, and I’m sure some other teams would have picked other players if they had the first choice.
Question: With no good news on Cedric Mullins, do the Orioles need to be thinking about acquiring another centerfielder? From: @Feartheturtle11
Answer: Jeff, I think it’s possible that the Orioles acquire another left-handed hitter. Colton Cowser hasn’t hit as well as they would have liked since he was called up from Norfolk, and Kyle Stowers isn’t hitting as well as expected at Norfolk. Ryan McKenna is a right-handed hitter, and he’s at Norfolk.
If they acquire another left-handed hitting centerfielder, it wouldn’t be a huge deal, but they probably could use another one.