Right-hander Noah Song plans to report to the Philadelphia Phillies spring training camp Thursday in hopes of being included on the team’s opening-day roster after transferring his status in the Navy from active duty to select reserves.
The 25-year-old song was picked up by Philadelphia in December’s Rule 5 draft by the Boston Red Sox. He last served in 2019 when he had a 1.06 ERA in 17 low-A innings after the Red Sox drafted him in the fourth round of the Naval Academy and signed him for $100,000.
In 2019, Song was denied a military obligation waiver by the Defense Ministry, and he has been on active duty ever since. His transfer to the selected reserves, which typically requires one weekend of service a month and two weeks a year, allows him to continue his baseball career.
To keep Song, the Phillies must add him to their 26-man active roster for the entire season — a difficult path given Philadelphia’s one World Series appearance and a deep bullpen. Song’s advantage was still clear from his college dominance and short minor league career.
During four seasons at the Naval Academy as a starter, Song hit 428 in 334⅓ innings with a 2.37 ERA. He was particularly outstanding during his senior season when he pitched 94 innings with 161 strikeouts and 31 walks while allowing just 55 hits and two home runs, resulting in a 1.44 ERA.
Song later turned pro in college and was drafted as a consensus second-round talent in the 2019 draft despite not having a national scouting profile by early spring. He was selected by the Red Sox with the final fourth-round pick, 137th overall, and signed for a bonus well below the $406,000 slot for the pick as his future with the Navy was uncertain. Philadelphia selected Song in the Rule 5 draft this winter, paying Boston $100,000 for his rights.
Best of all, Song sat his fastball in the mid-’90s, touching 99 mph while relying mostly on a plus slider but also an above-average curveball. His athleticism, scouts said, gives him a solid feel for all three courts – and he threw in the occasional substitution. Given the lengthy hiatus from competition, aggressive manner in which he tackles bats, and lack of a standout substitution, he’s likely to take on a multi-inning backup role in 2023, the evaluators said.
The song could eventually start if he ends up in the minor leagues. Rule 5 picks must remain on the major league roster for the entire season in order to stay with the team drafting them.
If Song doesn’t get the Phillies out of camp, they could trade him to another team or put him on waivers where either team could claim him and add him to their big league roster. If Song weren’t claimed, he could be brought back to the Red Sox for $50,000 and they could send him to the minor leagues.
ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel contributed to this report.