Phillies Take A Low-Cost Risk By Picking Noah Song

Image credit: Noah Song pitching with Team USA (Getty Images)

Noah Song may not throw a pitch in 2023. It is unclear when exactly he’ll return to a pitching mound.

But he is likely one of the sharpest picks of the 2022 MLB Rule 5 draft. The Phillies selected Song off the Red Sox Triple-A roster. It was a fascinating pick because Song, a Naval Academy graduate, has not pitched since a brief stint in 2019. He is serving his service commitment and is training as a naval aviator.

Song will now be placed on the military list, a designation that removes him from the active roster. He will not need to be activated and placed on the 40-man roster until he is declared eligible to pitch.

So until then, the Phillies will avoid the “roster tax” that is normally a part of picking a Rule 5 pick. Such a player must be carried on the 40-man roster for the entirety of the season unless the picking team is willing to lose the player on waivers. 

And if Song does not pitch in 2023, Dombrowski said that Song will only have to spend 90 days on the active MLB roster to fulfill MLB Rule 5 roster requirements. After those 90 days, he will be able to be optioned to the minors.

“We loved him. We thought he was a No. 1 draft choice. We thought he might be the best starting pitcher in the country. We took a gamble that maybe he wouldn’t have to serve, but he did have to do that. Being available like this, we thought we had nothing to lose,” Phillies president Dave Dombrowski said. 

The Red Sox had the option of adding him to the 40-man roster and then placing him on the military service list, which would have removed him from Rule 5 eligibility, but by doing so, they would have had to immediately add him to the 40-man roster whenever he was eligible to pitch. They took the risk that he would be unpicked.

At the time of his graduation from the Naval Academy, Song faced a five-year service commitment. He has applied to serve the final three years of that commitment in the Naval Reserves.

In Song’s brief stint with the Red Sox and pitching for USA Baseball in 2019, he showed a 94-99 mph fastball, a promising slider and a potentially plus changeup. He has yet to throw an inning in full season ball, but he was considered a relatively polished starting pitching prospect.

“I would say he’s the top talent (in the 2022 Rule 5 Draft). This is a longshot by all means. But it’s worth taking a shot. I don’t think anyone knows exactly when he’ll be released from his service, but for the cost of a draft we felt it was worth taking,” Dombrowski said.


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