Former Navy pitcher Noah Song finishes flight school, requests waiver to resume career with Boston Red Sox
(Tribune News Service) – Naval Academy graduate Noah Song has completed his primary aviation training and applied for a waiver that would allow him to pursue professional baseball, his agent confirmed.
Song completed flight school at Naval Air Station Pensacola and received his gold wings in a ceremony April 28. He asked the Secretary of the Navy for a waiver that would allow him to fulfill his reserve service requirement.
Sara Kelm of sports management company Lacertus Group, which has represented Song since graduating from the academy in May 2019, said that was the plan from the start. Song was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the fourth round of the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft and signed to a contract.
The Red Sox retain the rights to Song, who briefly played in the organization’s minor league system before being ordered to report to flight school in June 2020.
“Noah was always going to request a waiver to convert his remaining duty time to reserve duty,” Kelm said. “There’s really no news. No decision has been made and we still don’t know if Noah can play or not.”
Lt. Junior Grade Song, who took time off after getting his wings, began a new block of training Monday at Naval Air Station Jacksonville. He was winged as a Navy flight officer, the airman who serves as the aircraft’s navigator, lookout and weapons operator.
Kelm declined to comment further on Song’s status until a decision was made by the Secretary of the Navy. She said Song was unable to conduct interviews without permission from her commanding officer.
Song was cleared to play for the Red Sox organization while on temporary assignment at the Naval Academy. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound right-handed pitcher spent two months with the Lowell Spinners, Boston’s affiliate in the short-season New York-Penn League.
Song dominated at this level, posting a 1.06 ERA and allowing just two runs in seven starts. He recorded 19 strikeouts and walked just five in 17 innings while being held on a strict pitch count after a lengthy senior season. He allowed 10 hits and held opponents to a .167 batting average.
After Lowell lost to Brooklyn in the New York-Penn League Championship game in September, Song returned to the Naval Academy for a month. He was then allowed to join the United States national team for an international Olympic qualifying tournament.
According to many scouts, Song was the best starting pitcher on Team USA’s roster and put on impressive performances – both in training camp and in the World Baseball Confederation Premier 12 Tournament.
Song pitched five scoreless innings in five relief appearances, scoring seven strikeouts as scouts recorded his 99 mph fastball. Baseball America ranked Song the 9th overall prospect in the Red Sox organization at the time.
Song originally submitted a waiver request to the Department of Defense requesting a transfer to the Naval Reserve in October 2019. However, the California native changed his mind six months later and submitted an updated request to pursue a flight training after all.
Kelm said Song had focused entirely on flight school for the past two years and had not attempted to train at Boston’s minor league facility in Fort Myers, Florida during that period. Red Sox vice president Ben Crockett recently told the Boston Globe that the talented pitcher engaged in limited baseball activities while training at Air Station Pensacola.
“Obviously, flight school is incredibly demanding. That has been his priority all along. As someone who always hoped for a chance to come back, I think he kept going,” said Crockett.
“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.”
Kelm said there was no timeline for when Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro would rule on Song’s waiver request. Crockett said the Red Sox organization will remain patient with the process and is proud of Song for earning his wings.
“He’s done an incredible job of getting to where he is professionally in flight school,” Crockett told the Boston Globe. “Obviously we’d love to have him back with us if it works out. We continue to support him anyway.”
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