Arguably the most interesting pick from the 2022 Rule 5 Draft was the Phillies’ selection of Red Sox prospect Noah Song. Prior to his selection, the 25-year-old Song last pitched in professional baseball back in 2019 due to a commitment to active service for the U.S. Navy. The Phillies confirmed on February 22 that Song has been moved to reserve service, which will allow him to resume his career. Here’s a look at what we saw from Song prior to his Navy service and what the Phillies could do with him in 2023.
A Look at Song
If former Navy standout Noah Song played for a different school and not had a naval commitment to serve, the 2023 Rule 5 draft pick could have been a first-round pick in the 2019 Draft. That didn’t happen, but the Red Sox selected him in the fourth round of the 2019 MLB Draft in the hopes that his commitment to the Navy could be sorted out.
After a standout career in Navy that saw Song strike out 428 batters over 334.1 innings, the Red Sox had the righty pitch with the now-defunct Lowell Spinners after his selection. In his only work as a pro, Song struck out 19 over 17 regular season innings.
Back in 2019, I did have the chance to see Song pitch with Lowell (SS-A), during the Spinners’ New York-Penn League Championship Series against the Brooklyn Cyclones. Against a lineup that featured former Mississippi State star Jake Mangum and current Mets rookie Brett Baty, Song made light work of the Cyclones. The right-hander had solid control of his stuff and struck out three over three innings, in which he allowed just one run.
Song sat in the mid-90s with his fastball, and worked in his breaking stuff during that start, as well. Scouting reports in 2019 projected Song to have an above-average fastball, to go along with an above-average slider. The Phillies righty also had two other pitches in his arsenal: a curveball and a changeup.
The Navy product attempted to have his service waived in 2019, but he was denied. Song has now been moved to the selected reserves of the Navy, allowing him to resume his baseball career. But, it won’t be with the team that drafted him in 2019.
What it Means
It’s truly anyone’s guess to see what happens here with Song. The Navy product displayed impressive stuff in his collegiate and brief Minor League career, but it’s been over three years since he’s last thrown a pitch in professional baseball. No one should be worried about his health or fitness, but whether or not the crispness of stuff is still there is a concern. But more importantly for the Phillies, it’s still very much of an unknown as to whether Song will have enough time to give Philly the reason it needs to keep him on the MLB roster.
The easiest decision that the Phillies could make is to left Song fight for a bullpen spot. Sure, Song could — in theory — battle with Bailey Falter or Andrew Painter for the fifth spot in the Phillies rotation. The 25-year-old did show starter potential prior to his service in the U.S. Navy, but a bullpen spot would be ideal for the Phillies to work him as a Major Leaguer.
But, the Phillies do boast not just a team ready to win a World Series, but a stacked bullpen. Seranthony Dominguez, Jose Alvarado, and Andrew Bellatti all proved to be strong options for manager Rob Thompson, and the front office added two new arms to the bullpen this winter. Former All-Star LHP Gregory Soto will join the Phillies after being dealt from the Tigers in January, while Craig Kimbrel will head back to the NL East after he signed with Philly in December.
Does Song — a talented right-handed pitcher, but one with limited pro experience — have the chance to join those arms? It’s going to be tough.
Remember, Song must be kept on the MLB roster for the entirety of the 2023 season in order for the Phillies to keep his rights. Otherwise, Song must be returned to the Red Sox, unless the Phillies can work out a deal with Boston in order to retain his rights.