Boston Red Sox prospect Noah Song must report to Navy flight school.
Noah Song, the Red Sox fourth-round pick from the Naval Academy (Navy) in the 2019 MLB draft, has been instructed to attend flight school at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. According to the Capital Gazette, the Department of Defense decided that Song must report to flight school no later than June 26th of this year, beginning a possible six-year service commitment.
After graduating from the Navy last May, Song was commissioned to be a Naval flight officer. Last October, he filed a waiver request with the Department of Defense wanting to delay his service commitment and asking to be sent to the Navy reserve.
While he was waiting for a response, Song continued playing baseball in the Boston Red Sox organization and for the United States national team. Song hoped that he would be granted his waiver after a Department of Defense order was passed last fall that allowed service academy graduates to pursue professional sports following graduation.
However, after recently learning that the policy would not be retroactively applied to his situation, he withdrew his waiver request and will now pursue flight training. In a statement from the Navy, Song shared:
"“The original waiver, which requested the ability to continue my service by transferring my commission to the Navy Reserves and concurrently pursuing a professional baseball career…gave me the best chance to make it to the major leagues. However, I understand transferring immediately into the reserves is unlikely because the law and policy in my case do not permit it.”"
Song may be able to leave training next May via an early release excuse. However, according to the Capital Gazette, it is rare to be released midway through training.
"“The Navy has made great efforts to support [Song’s] baseball goals within the constraints imposed by law and policy,” stated Navy’s Superintendent Vice Admiral Sean Buck. “[We] are hopeful he will achieve his goals as a naval officer and professional baseball player.”"
Nevertheless, the Red Sox are missing out on a potential superstar pitcher. At Navy, Song broke numerous records including career wins (32), strikeouts (428), innings pitched (334.1), and tied for the most shutouts (9) in school history.
He was a 2019 NCAA First-Team All-American and was a finalist for the 2019 Golden Spikes Award, which is presented by USA Baseball to the best amateur baseball player in the country and has been won by players such Andrew Benintendi (2015) and David Price (2007). If it wasn’t for his commitment with the Navy, some experts believe he would have likely been drafted in the earlier rounds of the 2019 draft.
Song is ranked 9th out of the Red Sox’s top prospects, according to SoxProspects.com. Based on their scouting report, Song maintains strong control of his fastball that reaches mid to high 90 mph speeds. His slider and changeup are considered to be “above average”, topping out in the mid 80 mph range, and he is working on improving his fourth pitch, a curveball.
Being 6-foot-4 and weighing 200 pounds, Song has an athletic frame capable of striking out a lot of big-league batters. According to the April 2020 farm system report from SoxProspects.com:
"“Song may have the best combination of polish and stuff of any pitcher in the system…and [is] in strong consideration for top overall pitching prospect, if not more.”"
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After being drafted, the pitcher was quick to deliver amazing results. He debuted with the Lowell Spinners, the Class A Short Season Minor League Baseball affiliate of the Red Sox, in 2019. In 17 innings, Song had a 1.06 ERA and struck out 19 batters. The 23-year old ace went on to pitch for Team USA at an Olympic qualifying tournament in November 2019. His pitches reached a maximum speed of 99 mph and he struck out six batters in 5 and one-third innings.
With Minor League Baseball expected to be canceled this season, the best-case scenario for the Red Sox is that Song will be able to start playing next May. If this happens, Song plans to eventually return back to flight school and finish training.
"“If I were somehow allowed to transfer into the reserves, I would have every intention of serving on active duty after my time with baseball ends… I want to serve my country as a naval aviator and play baseball for the Red Sox,” expressed Song."
Despite this decision, Red Sox fans should remain excited and optimistic about Song’s talent. The team has a chance to save money and strengthen their next starting pitcher. With no baseball happening right now, Song’s decision makes sense and he should stay in shape through his training with the military.
The Red Sox don’t have the best farm system to begin with, let alone young pitchers, and Song has the potential to be one of the few bright spots from the organization’s current prospect list. All we can do right now is hope that we will get to see this young ace back on the mound sooner than later.