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MLB Draft: Boston Red Sox take Navy’s Noah Song in the fourth round

The Red Sox made Song the highest selection ever out of the Naval Academy, taking him at No. 137.

Navy Athletics

A year ago, Noah Song got a start at Fenway Park in a game against Army.

After Tuesday, there might be many more trips to the mound for Song in Boston.

The Naval Academy product was selected No. 137 overall in the 2019 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft by the Boston Red Sox. The defending World Series champs spent the final fourth round pick on Song, making him the highest pick ever from Navy.

A 6-foot-4 right-hander from California, Song was one of the best pitchers in college baseball this season. He set program records for the Midshipmen for career wins (32) and strikeouts (428), and as a senior went 11-1 over 14 starts with two shutouts. In 94 innings of work in 2019, he allowed just two home runs.

While Song has displayed that he can pitch extremely well — his pitches regularly touching above 95 mph — a career in baseball will have to wait, at least for a bit. According to MLB.com, Song will report to Pensacola, Florida on Nov. 1 to begin his training as a Naval flight officer and won’t be able to petition to serve the rest of his five-year career until 2021.

“There’s a lot of pride that I take in this place, the degree and the service time after, the people, the environment,” Song told the Washington Post. “To leave that environment after you’re saturated in it for four years, it’s hard to step out. As far as the baseball end goes, I always tell people I’ll play baseball as long as anybody will let me, but I’m definitely prepared and ready to go serve my country… The Naval Academy has prepared me well for dealing with whatever comes up in the moment.”

Had Song pitched at any other school in the country, he might’ve been a first-round pick. But some teams were worried about his service commitment, and how long it might be before he ever puts on a uniform for them.

“It’s complicated,” an anonymous scouting director for an MLB team told the New York Times. “On most guys it’s about talent, it’s about performance, athleticism, makeup — things like that. With Noah, you have to take into consideration: how long is he going to be away?”

But rules about service commitments could change at any time. Just last month, President Donald Trump said he was looking into offering a waiver that would allow Service Academy athletes to pursue pro sports immediately after graduation.

Song is the latest in a line of recent MLB draftees from the Naval Academy. In 2008, the Cardinals drafted catcher Mitch Harris while the Orioles drafted pitcher Oliver Drake. Alex Azor was selected by the Blue Jays in 2012, the Braves picked Stephen Moore in 2015, and the Blue Jays went back to Navy in 2016 to pick up Luke Gillingham in the 37th round.

Among all pitchers in Division I college baseball this season, Song ranked sixth in ERA (1.44), seventh in hits allowed per-nine innings (5.27), first in strikeouts (161), first in strikeouts per-nine innings (15.41) and 13th in WHIP (0.91). He is also a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award, given annually to the nation’s top amateur player.

The 22-year-old was tabbed as MLB Pipeline’s 68th best draft prospect.

“He’s got major-league weapons,” another anonymous team scout told the New York Times. “But like a lot of guys he needs to be more consistent.”

Song was the Red Sox’s fourth pick in the draft. Ahead of him they took Arizona shortstop Cameron Cannon, high school shortstop Matthew Lugo (who is also the nephew of Carlos Beltran), and Kansas pitcher Ryan Zeferjahn.

Whenever Song takes the mound — in a minor or major league uniform — there’s going to be a whole lot of Naval Academy graduates and veterans rooting for him.