Noah Song could make his long-awaited major league debut this season -- just not with the Boston Red Sox.
The 25-year-old pitching prospect has been discharged from his commitment to the U.S. Navy and will join the Philadelphia Phillies in training camp Thursday, the team announced Wednesday.
Song began his baseball career with the Red Sox, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2019 MLB Draft. The young right-hander dazzled in Low-A ball, allowing just two earned runs in 17 innings pitched over seven starts for the Lowell Spinners in 2019.
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That December, the Navy declined Song's petition to delay his service time, meaning Song had to report to Naval flight school while putting his baseball career on hold. Song applied for another waiver to join the Red Sox in May 2022, but the Navy didn't officially discharge him until this week, forcing the Red Sox to make him available in the December 2022 Rule 5 Draft, where he was selected by the Phillies.
If Song fulfills his potential and becomes an impact pitcher for the Phillies in 2023 and beyond, that'd be a tough development for the Red Sox. But there is a scenario in which Song actually returns to Boston.
Per MLB's Rule 5 guidelines, if Song doesn't make the Phillies' 26-man roster out of spring training and remain on their roster for the entire 2023 season, the team must place him on outright waivers. If he clears waivers, he must be offered back to his previous team -- in this case the Red Sox -- for $50,000.
Song hasn't pitched competitively in four years, so there's no guarantee he makes the Phillies' 26-man roster. If the Phillies can't find a spot for him, then there's a good chance that Song would land back in Boston with no more military commitments in his future.
That gives Red Sox fans incentive to follow Song's progress in Phillies training camp, with the possibility of a promising former prospect returning to the team that drafted him if he fails to latch on in Philadelphia.