As Navy Commitment Looms, Noah Song Turns Heads With Team USA
SURPRISE, Ariz. — Noah Song doesn’t know what the future holds. All he knows is he is able to pitch now, and he is determined to make the most of it.
Song, 22, is in a unique position as an active military member on Team USA’s Olympic qualifying roster. A Naval Academy graduate drafted by the Red Sox in the fourth round last June, Song is awaiting a decision from the Department of Defense whether he will be able to defer his two-year active service requirement in order to play baseball. (His service commitment is for five years, but he can petition to serve the final three years in the reserves, as NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson did.)
Song is currently scheduled to report to flight school in Pensacola, Fla. in December, where he will begin training as a Naval Flight Officer. Until then, he will pitch for Team USA in November at Premier12, the Olympic qualifying tournament. Depending on the DoD’s decision, it could be the only time Song pitches in the next two years, or longer.
“I know this could very well be the last time I ever pitch in my life,” Song said. “As sad as some people might see that, I don’t see it in any negative ways. I think I have two incredible plans in front of me. So whichever one happens is what happens.”
Song, an All-American and Golden Spikes Award finalist last spring, has already made an impression on the mound for Team USA. He struck out four of the six batters he faced in the team’s scrimmage Saturday against Arizona, sitting 95-96 mph and touching 98 mph with his fastball and flashing a four-pitch mix.
One scout in attendance succinctly described Song’s stuff as “filth.” His teammates got as rowdy and amped up in the dugout during the outing as they have at any point since the team first came together last week. Twenty-four hours later, players and coaches were still buzzing Song’s performance prior to Team USA’s third scrimmage.
“It’s a live arm with command,” said Team USA pitching coach Bryan Price, the former Reds manager. “I can see why he was effective in college, and I can see why he’s seen as a very valuable asset and commodity with the Red Sox.”
USA Baseball evaluated a number of players with service academy backgrounds for its Olympic qualifying roster, according to general manager Eric Campbell. Tigers catcher Jon Rosoff (Army), Twins pitcher Griffin Jax (Air Force) and Reds pitcher Jake Gilbert (Air Force) all received consideration, but Song’s talent and track record ultimately made him the pick.
In addition to his arm, his clubhouse presence has already stood out to teammates.
“He was absolutely electric (on the mound), but also as a person, a teammate, a role model, you name it,” second baseman Xavier Edwards said. “We’re all wearing USA across our chests, but he represents USA in every facet. It’s definitely cool to see.”
Song, who was lightly recruited out of Claremont (Calif.) High School and received his only Division I scholarship offer from Navy, long dreamt of playing for a U.S. National team from a baseball perspective.
Now that the opportunity has arrived, it has taken on added significance given his military standing.
“Just to be able to have the opportunity now to physically represent our country on and off the field at the same time because I’m still active duty, it’s a tremendous honor,” Song said.
“My goal here is just being a good representation of the Navy side of things. At the end of the day, when people look back, everybody on the team, I want them to be able to say about Noah Song, ‘He was a standup officer and he was what I would hope our military members are like’. There are so many other service members right now that are overseas doing some very, very high-risk work and serious things. I just want to be able to represent them well.”
With his opening performance and presence in the clubhouse, Song is on the right track to do just that.
As he awaits word on his future, he is making the most of the present, and showing why the Red Sox took the chance to draft him.
“If they gotta wait for him,” Price said, “he’s going to be well worth the wait.”
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Team USA defeated Central Arizona JC, 16-5, on Sunday afternoon in its penultimate scrimmage before Premier12. Alec Bohm hit two of Team USA’s six home runs.
Team USA plays its final scrimmage on Monday against Gateway (Ariz.) JC at Surprise Stadium.