This is part-five of a ten-part series taking an in-depth look at when the top prospects in the game will reach the majors. For the rankings on this list, I used the Baseball Prospectus Top-101.
Pederson will spend most of 2014 knocking on the door to the majors, but we can't be sure that anyone is going to answer. Pederson is set to head to Triple-A this season, and in most organizations, he'd be up at some point this summer. The Dodgers, however, already have four major league outfielders for three spots, not including Pederson. Unfortunately, his getting an opportunity in the majors hinges more on the play and health of other veterans than it does his own success.
What Could Speed It Up: A couple of injuries to the Dodgers current outfield quartet.
What Could Slow It Down: If everyone in the majors is health and productive.
Cecchini had a great 2014 season, walking more than he struck out while splitting his season between High-A and Double-A. He's already 22 and controls the strike zone like a savvy veteran, but the Red Sox are hoping he has some more power left to develop. That coupled with a potential blockade by Will Middlebrooks and Xander Bogaerts (if he slides over to 3B at any point in the next two years) give the Red Sox plenty of time to take it slow with Cecchini. Still, he should be in Triple-A at some point this season.
ETA: June 2015
What Could Speed It Up: If the Red Sox don't sign Stephen Drew, leaving Bogaerts entrenched as the SS, then Middlebrooks struggles, they could call on Cecchini earlier than expected.
What Could Slow It Down: If they add Drew and slide Bogaerts over to 3B, Cecchini will be very blocked. Much of his promotion schedule hinges on whether or not the Red Sox sign Drew in the next few weeks.
Franco is technically blocked in the majors by Cody Asche, but I don't see that being a problem once the Phillies determine he's ready. Franco could jump straight to Triple-A to start the season, given his great performance in Double-A last year, and if that's the case, he could be ready by mid-summer. The Phillies offense will likely need a boost at that point and Franco could be just the option. He could also see time at 1B if Ryan Howard has injury issues again. There are a number of ways the Phillies can get Franco into their lineup this season, if they really want to.
ETA: June 2014
What Could Speed It Up: That's probably about the quickest you'll see Franco, no matter what he does this spring.
What Could Slow It Down: If they start him in Double-A, or if he struggles in Triple-A, or if Ryan Howard stays healthy and Cody Asche starts off the season hot.
Some see Cole as a reliever, which could actually help him move faster, but that's not a move the Nationals are prepared to make just yet, and perhaps not in the minors at all. He struggled in his first taste of High-A ball in 2012, but has gotten things back together since and has been returned to the Nationals organization. He'll return to Double-A in 2014 and should spend at least half of the season there. He could be on the list of potential call-ups if the Nationals need a replacement starter in the second half of the season, but they have good pitching depth and should have plenty of other options. A few late-season innings out of the pen are a possibility.
What Could Speed It Up: If Cole has a great season and the Nationals need a spot start, or if they want to give him some work out of the pen down the stretch.
What Could Slow It Down: Any struggles from Cole or a continually crowded Nationals rotation.
Stewart is among the most physically talented pitchers in the entire minor leagues, but he will be 19 all season and has yet to reach full-season ball. At this point, we'll expect him to spend a year at each level and reach the majors by 22 until he proves he can move faster, which is a decent possibility. It's just too early to tell how the Twins will handle him otherwise.
What Could Speed It Up: If Stewart hits the ground running and dominates the low minors like Dylan Bundy did a few years ago, he could get to Double-A quickly and speed up his timetable.
What Could Slow It Down: For a 19-year-old pitcher, there are tons of variables, any of which could slow him down.
Fried has been generally overlooked when it comes to discussing the game's top pitching prospects, but he put together a solid season as a 19-year-old in Low-A ball in 2013. That was going to put him on a level-a-year track and send him to the California League next year, until reports came down on Thursday that Fried is being shut down with a sore forearm. That's never good. If this is nothing, he'll head to High-A ball this season, but if this is more serious, it could cost him some significant time. Right now, we'll wait and see.
What Could Speed It Up: If he's healthy and the Padres want to get him out of the California League as quickly as possible, he could be in Double-A by mid-season.
What Could Slow It Down: Forearm injuries are sometimes precursors of elbow issues that cost players significant time.
56. Josmil Pinto, C, Minnesota Twins
With Joe Mauer making the full-time transition to first base, the door would seemingly be wide open for Pinto to take over behind the plate this season. The Twins aren't currently handing him the job and have Kurt Suzuki in the fold, but he's better served as a backup. Pinto has already had success in the upper minors and in a brief major league stint and is more than ready to take over. If he doesn't win the job out of spring training, he'll grab onto it soon thereafter.
ETA: Early 2014
What Could Speed It Up: Pinto winning the job from Suzuki this spring.
What Could Slow It Down: If the Twins want to start him in the minors or want to hold him off for contractual reasons.
If Singleton hadn't had his bout with the wacky weed last year, he'd likely already be in the majors. Even if he had, if he had come back in better shape he may still have been rewarded with a late-season call-up. As it is, fat and high led to a poor season and a return trip to Triple-A. Still, the Astros are terrible and Singleton is good. He'll be ready by the summer.
ETA: June 2014
What Could Speed It Up: He will be the best first baseman in camp this spring, so he could wina job, but the Astros are savvy enough to hold him back and keep an extra year of control.
What Could Slow It Down: If he struggles in Triple-A again the way he did last year.
Harvey will enter full-season ball for the first time in 2014, but the Orioles have been willing to move pitching prospects quickly in recent years. He'll start in Low-A ball, but if he has any kind of success, he could jump to High-A at mid-season. The precedent here is Bundy, but that may have been an extreme case. I don't see the Orioles taking it one level-per-year with Harvey, but we can't assume he'll shoot through the system either.
What Could Speed It Up: If he dominates the low minors, the Orioles will not hesitate to move him along.
What Could Slow It Down: If he handles the low minors like a typical 19-year-old, he could need a year at each level, still getting him to the majors by 22.
McGuire wowed the Pirates and scouts alike after being drafted last year, not only with his play but with his maturity and leadership. Those are key components in a catching prospect. Catchers typically take longer to develop, but that's usually because their defense needs work. McGuire's glove is his best asset. The Pirates have been willing to do mid-season promotions with prospects, so he could split this season between Low and High-A ball, but then go year-by-year from there.
ETA: June 2017
What Could Speed It Up: If his bat takes off and catches up with his glove, he could fly.
What Could Slow It Down: Catching prospects, in general, need a lot of time in the minors.