The baseball career of Boston Red Sox pitching prospect and Navy graduate Noah Song is on hold.
One of the top professional sports prospects from the service academies, Song does not expect to continue his baseball career for the near future after the Navy said on Tuesday they would not allow him a waiver to defer his service.
A recent policy announcement from President Donald Trump and defense secretary Mark T. Esper allows academy graduates to postpone their service in order to pursue professional sports. Song, who was drafted by Boston in the fourth round of the 2019 draft and spent the summer playing in the Red Sox minor league system for the Lowell Spinners, is not eligible for the new policy, which goes into effect for the class of 2020. Song graduated from the Naval Academy in May, and thus does not fall under the newly implemented policy.
According to a report from The Washington Post, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Robert Burke told Song that they would not recommend his waiver for service.
“I feel fine,” Song told The Post. “I guess I didn’t really expect too much to come out of it because I wasn’t covered by the policy. So when I was told it was going to be negatively endorsed, I moved on. I’m just excited to get down to flight school.”
Naval Officers told Song that the policy does not apply to commissioned officers. Song received commission in May, and previously told ESPN that he was going to report to flight school in Pensacola, Florida in mid-December, before the President directed the Pentagon in June to implement the new policy. The Department of Defense has previously allowed commissioned officers to pursue careers in professional sports after two years of active service.
The decision, however, is not finalized. Acting secretary of the Navy, Thomas Modly, along with Esper, have the oversight to grant Song’s waiver against Burke’s recommendation. Navy spokesperson Lieutenant Commander Derrick Ingle told the Boston Globe no final decision has been made on Song’s status. A service academy athlete can be nominated for a waiver if there “is a strong expectation that a Military Service Academy cadet or midshipman’s future professional sports employment will provide the Department of Defense with significant favorable media exposure likely to enhance national level recruiting or public affairs missions,” according to a memo previously released by Esper.
“Until we hear something definitive from them, both the Red Sox and Noah will remain hopeful that he gets a chance to play for the Red Sox and serve,” Red Sox vice president of player development Ben Crockett emailed The Post. “If Noah has to serve two years, we will fully support him — his service is important to the team, too. But as of right now, we still believe the opportunity is there for him to play right away and still get a chance to serve his country.”
In seven starts last season for Lowell, Song allowed two runs on 10 hits over 17 innings, posting 19 strikeouts. Song also impressed for Team USA during the Olympic qualifiers in Japan, consistently flashing a 99 mph fastball, allowing zero runs and one hit over 5.1 innings out of the bullpen.