Red Sox pitching prospect Noah Song completes naval flight training, requests waiver to resume career

Noah Song, once a top pitcher whose Red Sox career was cut short while he was finishing Navy flight school, has completed his aviation training and petitioned the Secretary of the Navy for a waiver of service that would allow him to resume his professional activity. career with the Red Sox, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Song, 24, was selected by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2019 draft. He was considered a first-round talent that year who slipped due to questions about whether he would be allowed to continue a professional baseball career.

The right-hander pitched briefly for the Lowell Spinners that summer, delivering a dominant 17 innings (1.06 ERA, 19 strikeouts), then dazzled out of the bullpen while representing Team USA in the tournament International Premier12. Evaluators considered him a pitcher with the ceiling of a mid-rotation starter based on a four-pitch mix anchored by a mid-to-high ’90s fastball.

Noah Song, 24, was selected by the Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2019 draft.AFP via Getty Images

But while Song applied for a waiver after graduating, which would allow him to serve in the reserves while helping out with the Red Sox organization, the US Naval Academy’s Chief of Navy (CNO) didn’t did not approve his petition. While Song’s request remained under consideration by the US Navy, the review process dragged on for months amid ongoing changes in the leadership of the Department of Defense and the Navy.

With no resolution more than a year after graduating from the Naval Academy, Song decided to enroll in flight school in the summer of 2020, hoping he would apply for the waiver again after having obtained his wings – which has now happened.

It’s almost impossible to say what two years away from organized baseball might mean for Song if he’s able to return and pursue a professional baseball career. The Sox had contact with him during his aviation training about his limited baseball activity.

“Obviously flight school is incredibly demanding. This has always been his priority. As someone who always hoped for a chance to come back, I think he continued [baseball] activity,” Red Sox vice president Ben Crockett said. “We have tried to keep in touch with him about this and give him advice on what lineup might work best, but obviously the timing is unpredictable. But yes, there has been some level of activity.

Song is believed to have re-applied to serve on the reserves while continuing his baseball career. It’s still unclear when the Secretary of the Navy will make a decision on his waiver request or guess what that decision might be.

While several graduates of US military academies were granted service waivers to pursue professional athletic careers before completing their military service obligation, a policy introduced in 2020 gave then-students the right to request such waivers – but was deemed by the CNO Naval Academy not to apply retroactively to people like Song who had already graduated.

Moreover, Song’s waiver request comes not only after graduating from the Naval Academy (which carries a standard two-year military service requirement), but after completing flight school – a program that is comes with a standard five-year military service. obligation.

Noah Song pitches for Team USA at the WBSC Premier 12 tournament in 2019.Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images

In 2020, Song made it clear that while he would love to pursue a professional baseball career, he considers the opportunity to serve as a naval aviator a privilege — describing any outcome as a “plan A” — with no regrets if the Navy declines his waiver request. Now he’s exploring that possibility again — and the Red Sox would certainly welcome a chance to be part of his future.

“He’s done an incredible job of getting to where he is professionally in flight school. We continue to support him anyway,” Crockett said. “Obviously we’d love to have him back with us if it works out.”


Alex Speier can be contacted at alex.speier@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alexspeier.

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