It seems like we have been waiting forever for MLB and the Players Union to agree on terms for their return to baseball, which makes it even wilder that there is yet another bureaucratic decision we have been waiting to come down. That revolves around top prospect and 2019 draftee Noah Song, who submitted a waiver to delay his mandatory service in the Navy until after his playing career. That waiver was never officially denied, but the wait for a decision is still over. According to Bill Wagner of the Capital Gazette, Song has withdrawn his waiver and will report to flight school in Florida.
This is a blow to the Red Sox farm system, as Song with a normal developmental path is, in my estimation, a borderline top 100-type arm and clearly part of the upper echelon of prospects in the system. Of course, this is the reason he fell to the fourth round in last summer’s draft. There was some hope a new executive order allowing athletes to push their mandatory military service back until after their playing career would apply to Song, but the odds were always against it. Song was officially commissioned as a Naval officer last May, and the executive order includes athletes’ commissioning being pushed back until after their career in professional athletics.
It appears Song got sick of waiting around for an official denial and instead withdrew his request. He acknowledged in his new letter that it was unlikely things would rule in his favor. There is some good news here, as the report from Wagner indicates there is a chance Song could be released from active military duty and transferred to reserves as early as May of next year. That’s not a guarantee, but given the lack of minor-league ball this year, missing only a couple months of action would have to be seen as a win. My reading of the situation — and I sincerely welcome any correction if I am misreading the report — is that an 18-month training before his release is more likely, which would mean a return to action in 2022.
Either way, Song certainly won’t be out of shape when he returns having spent his time off literally training in the military. There will be some rust to kick off, but reason for excitement is only very slightly diminished, but more delayed. Song did, of course, get to pitch with the Spinners last year and pitched extremely well, finishing with a 1.06 ERA over 17 innings with 19 strikeouts and five walks. He also pitched for Team USA in an Olympics qualifier this past fall and scouts were extremely impressed with how he looked in that tournament as well.