BOSTON -- The two prospects who have been selected by MLBPipeline.com as the top performers in Boston's farm system for 2015 come from entirely different backgrounds and development paths.
But left-handed starter Brian Johnson and second baseman (for now) Yoan Moncada both leave the organization with great optimism that they can be significant factors in the future.
For Johnson, who was named by Pipeline as the organization's Pitcher of the Year, the impact could come in the near future.
The only drawback to an otherwise stellar season for Johnson is a UCL injury to his left elbow that prevented him from pitching after Aug. 2 and limited him to 100 1/3 innings (including his one start for the Red Sox). However, no ligament damage was detected, and the Red Sox believe he will be ready to go for 2016.
The lefty, who is known for his quick pace, went 9-6 with a 2.53 ERA in 18 starts at Triple-A Pawtucket, and he had 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
"Brian continued where he left off last year, making a strong impression in Major League Spring Training and showing consistency in each start during the season -- rising to the challenge of Triple-A," said Red Sox director of player development Ben Crockett. "Going into 2016, Brian will continue to work on game-planning and preparation and continuing to refine command and consistency of his entire repertoire."
While Johnson's rise through the farm system has been steady since he was selected with the 31st overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, Moncada burst onto the scene in February when the Red Sox won the sweepstakes to sign the top Cuban prospect.
Though the 20-year-old switch-hitter entered his first professional season with a lot of hype, he didn't let it distract him.
While adapting to cultural and professional adjustments, Moncada had a solid year for Class A Greenville, hitting .278 with 19 doubles, three triples, eight homers and an .817 OPS. Perhaps most impressive was his success on the basepaths. Moncada was successful in 49 of his 52 stolen-base attempts.
"Yoan took some time early in the season to regain timing and feel after being away from a competitive environment, all while learning a new culture, language, routines and moving from Fort Myers, [Fla.], to Greenville, [S.C.]," said Crockett. "Once he gained comfort on the field with routines, expectations and competition, and off the field with teammates, culture and travel, his performance took a step forward."
To help ease his adjustment, the Red Sox had Moncada stay at his most comfortable position, second base, and he made 23 errors in 394 chances. That shouldn't be cause for alarm though. Remember, Derek Jeter made 56 errors in his second pro season.
Dustin Pedroia is signed with the Red Sox through 2021, so there stands a strong chance that Moncada will eventually switch positions -- perhaps to third base or the outfield. For now, the focus will be on incremental steps.
Look for Moncada to open next season at Class A Advanced Salem.
"In 2016, [Moncada] will continue to face some of the challenges of acclimation to a new location and level, but will have much familiarity with the organization, his teammates and culture after spending an offseason in the States," said Crockett.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.