The Phillies Wild Card that is Noah Song
Phillies president of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski knows a talented arm when he sees one. That is why, although it was unknown whether he would be able to pitch for the Phillies this season, the Phillies drafted pitcher Noah Song in December's Rule 5 Draft. Song reported to Clearwater for Spring Training on Thursday.
Song was a fourth round draft pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2019. At the time, Dombrowski was at the helm of Boston's baseball operations. Song was drafted out of the United States Naval Academy. Song was a top performer at the school.
Song holds the Naval Academy records for wins, innings pitched, strikeouts, and tied for the most shutouts in school history.
According to Dombrowski, about a year ago Song had put in papers to be transferred to the Naval Reserves. There were no promised attached when he requested as such. Just a week ago, the Phillies learned of a change of status. Finally, Song was transferred from active duty to the reserves, clearing him to join the Phillies.
So after three years without playing professional baseball, can Song pitch?
"He hasn't pitched in three years. We knew when we drafted him it's a long shot...The reality is that it's a gamble, that's what it is.... I don't know if he's going to throw 85 or 95, but we think it's worth the risk."
But it was Dombrowski who drafted Song, perhaps much later in the draft than he might have picked had he no military commitment.
"I thought he was a number one draft choice, but because of the commitment nobody was taking him."
As a Rule 5 pick, the Phillies will have to grant Song a Major League roster spot, or return him to the Red Sox. That means Song will have just five weeks to show that he belongs in the Major Leagues. Can someone who has not thrown show he belongs in five weeks?
Dombrowski noted that Song told general manager Sam Fuld, "It felt as if I haven't been on the mound in three years."
The Phillies will have room on their 40-man roster for at least one player. Bryce Harper will be moved to the 60-day Injured List when rosters are set. The Phillies could attempt to work out a trade with the Red Sox to keep song in the system and work his way up in the minor leagues.
While it's a Wild Card, the Phillies took a chance. Pitching is scarce, so why not?