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February 28, 2023 at 2:00 PM

Fort Report: Singing a Song of spring

After two years of COVID-interrupted spring training followed by the 2022 lockout, 2023 has been the first traditional spring training in four years. The SoxProspects.com team is back with the weekly notes edition, kicking off with the spring training Fort Report. Games got started on Friday with a matchup against Northeastern University, and will continue throughout the month of March.

The one who got away (but might come back)
The biggest news of the past several days has been from outside of Red Sox camp. Rule 5 pick Noah Song (pictured) was transferred from his Navy commitment, freeing him to join camp with the Philadelphia Phillies. Chris Hatfield and Ian Cundall went into depth on the situation on the most recent SoxProspects.com podcast, but a brief review: Song impressed at Lowell after the Red Sox drafted him in the fourth round of the 2019 draft, but his petition for a waiver from his previous commitment to flight school was denied, putting his baseball career on hold. The right-hander, having not thrown a pitch in over 3 years, was taken by the Phillies in the major league Rule 5 draft in December. The Red Sox would have had the option of adding Song to the 40-man roster and then placing him on the Military List, freeing up that spot, but upon his return he would have had only a 15-day rehab assignment before the team would have needed to start using that spot on a player who is several years removed from pitching and had not even reached full-season ball. 

That conflict now belongs to the Phillies, who must keep him on the 26-man (rather than 40-man) roster once he is eligible for activation around April 13. It is very difficult to imagine Song being ready to use a roster spot on a team that fashions itself as a contender. It is possible that another team that looks less likely to compete in 2023 could trade for or claim him and use that roster spot. However, Song's narrow path back toward fulfilling his promise on the mound likely doesn't involve sparing mop-up usage on a non-contender. 

One wrinkle: if Song is returned to the Red Sox and has a relatively effective 2023, there will be significant pressure to add him to the roster at that time; a player taken a second time in the Rule 5 draft does not need to be offered back to his team. 

Other Rule 5 picks see game action
While folks were in a tizzy about the Song situation, it was easy to miss the Washington Nationals debut of Thaddeus Ward, a player whose availability in the Rule 5 draft was far harder to defend than Song's. The draft's first selection pitched a scoreless fifth inning for the Nats on Saturday, walking one and striking out one. AJ Politi made his spring debut on Monday for the Orioles, striking out one and walking one in an inning of work. 

Continued roster tinkering
The team has continued to touch up the 2023 roster in the early days of spring training. With Trevor Story moving to the 60-day injured list, the team brought back veteran infielder Yu Chang on a major league deal. Chang appeared in 11 games for Boston last September, going 3 for 20 with 5 walks. 

The team also inked Daniel Palka and old friend Marcus Wilson (pictured) to minor league deals. Wilson first came to the organization in April 2019 in the deal that sent Blake Swihart to Arizona. He appeared in 171 games at three levels between the 2019 and 2021 season. Wilson made his major league debut with Seattle in June of last year. Palka finished fifth in Rookie of the Year voting as a member of the White Sox in 2018, but he struggled badly the following year and has not returned to the majors since. The 31-year-old slugger is coming off a solid season with Triple-A Syracuse, where he hit .263/.344/.506 with 26 homers in 109 games.

The team also invited catcher Elih Marrero to major league camp. The 2018 eighth-round pick out of Mississippi State has played in 201 games over four professional seasons, spending all of 2022 with Double-A Portland.

Minor leaguers in major league games
Each year, we track the players who are not in major league camp who get pulled over for MLB games. Through the first three games, that category has been primarily pitchers--12 of the 14 non-camp players to appear have done so from the mound. Here is the list, with current ranking in parentheses: Pitchers Skylar Arias, Cam Booser, Brandon Cellucci, Rio Gomez, Luis Guerrero (29), Joe Jacques, Robert Kwiatkowski, Sterling Sharp, Joey Stock, Jake Thompson, Jacob Webb, and Ryan Zeferjahn (58); infielder Edwin Diaz; and utilityman Tyler McDonough (30). 

Ongoing spring training coverage
  • Members of the SoxProspects.com team will be in Fort Myers from March 14 to 21 to bring in-person updates and analysis. 
  • Our annual top 60 countdown is ongoing, both here on our news page and on our Twitter feed (@SoxProspects).
  • Make sure to stay up to date on the SoxProspects.com podcast. On the most recent edition, Chris and Ian go into detail on the Noah Song discussion, plus some talk of staff favorite Miguel Bleis, and the continuing roster evolution.

Photo Credit: Noah Song, Marcus Wilson by Kelly O'Connor