This is part-six 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.
Sims is a horse, and unlike most 19-year-old pitchers, it won't take him much longer to develop physically, but he did just finish his first year of full-season ball and is destined for the High-A Carolina League this year. That's typically a pitcher-friendly assignment, one that could allow Sims to move quickly, but he turns just 20 this season and there's no need to rush him. At this point, the Braves appear to be ready to go level-by-level, at least for the time being. He could move more quickly once he reaches Double-A.
What Could Speed It Up: If he reaches Double-A this season, the big leagues will be within reach in 2015.
What Could Slow It Down: The Braves limited his workload by using him in relief some last year. If they want to take their time to build up his innings it could slow him down.
Alfaro has received a lot of love this winter, and with good reason, but he's still a catching prospect with terrible plate discipline, both attributes that require lots of minor league at-bats. He'll spend the entire year in High-A ball and will turn just 21 this summer, so he's got plenty of time to stay there. He needs to refine his receiving and his approach at the plate, but the overall package will be tough for the Rangers to hold off for too long. Still, for all his talent, he needs his time in the minors to allow it to come out.
What Could Speed It Up: If his receiving skills catch up with his bat.
What Could Slow It Down: If his plate discipline gets exposed at higher levels of the minors.
In what's becoming a trend in this part of the list, Glasnow will also head to High-A ball to begin the 2014 season. Unlike our first two prospects, however, Glasnow could easily finish the year in Double-A. The Pirates have shown that they are willing to promote worthy prospects mid-season. That doesn't mean they will - it will have everything to do with how he pitches at Bradenton this spring - but it's something the Pirates have done with top pitching prospects in the past.
ETA: Summer 2016
What Could Speed It Up: If he continues to record ridiculous strikeout numbers.
What Could Slow It Down: If the Pirates determine he needs a full-season at any level from here on out.
Folty has one of the best fastballs in the minors but is still learning how to pitch effectively. After spending most of the season in Double-A, he could return there to start 2014, but either way, he'll need another full season in the minors if the Astros want to keep him as a starter. If Foltynewicz makes what some believe is an inevitable transition to the bullpen, however, he could be in Houston by year's end.
What Could Speed It Up: A switch to a relief role.
What Could Slow It Down: If the Astros insist on continuing to work him as a starter, the process will take time.
Seager finished the 2013 season in the High-A California League, but struggled there badly in a 27 game stint. The struggles were no cause for concern, and were largely attributed to wearing down at the end of a long season, but they were enough that he will almost certainly return there to begin the 2014 season. In a hitter-friendly league, Seager could do some real damage there early in the season, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him hit his way into a mid-season promotion.
ETA: Late 2015
What Could Speed It Up: Some scouts see Seager moving over to 3B where the Dodgers don't have a long-term solution or anyone blocking him.
What Could Slow It Down: If his struggles from the end of last year carry over at all to this season.
If Soler had been healthy in 2013, he likely would have torn through High-A ball and would've ended up in Double-A. As it was, he got only 55 games in and could start the 2014 season at either level. He's physically developed, so it's really just about getting him some experience. Either way, he should be in the first wave of Cubs prospects called up, perhaps as early as this fall.
ETA: Fall 2014
What Could Speed It Up: It's probably not going to happen much quicker than that, but if he starts the year in Double-A and really hits, he could be up by mid-summer.
What Could Slow It Down: If the Cubs send him back to A-ball and he has any kinds of struggles, we're looking at 2015.
Almonte will head to High-A Wilmington in 2014, an ultra-pitcher-friendly ballpark where some big numbers are possible. That could allow him to finish the season in Double-A at age 21. That would be aggressive, but possible, though the Royals have generally been cautious with pitching prospects. He should see Double-A at some point this season, with the question remaining whether it's for the second half of the season or just a start or two down the stretch.
ETA: Late 2015
What Could Speed It Up: If he dominates in Wilmington and spends the second half of 2014 in Double-A, he could begin 2015 in Triple-A.
What Could Slow It Down: If he needs a full year in High-A ball, he could go year-by-year.
Much of Wisler's arrival in the majors depends on the state of the Padres this season. Wisler made 20 starts in Double-A last year which should put him on the doorstep of the majors this year in Triple-A as a 21-year-old. If the Padres need pitching help this season, Wisler could be among those called-up. The Padres actually have some decent pitching depth, so there shouldn't be a need to force Wisler up before he is ready, but by about mid-summer, he'll probably be their best option. We could see him this year.
ETA: Late 2014
What Could Speed It Up: Injuries in the majors.
What Could Slow It Down: Struggles in Triple-A for Wisler.
There's not much left to guess on here. d'Arnaud will be the Mets Opening Day catcher and will catch 130 games in the majors this season as long as he's healthy.
ETA: April 2014
What Could Speed It Up: N/A
What Could Slow It Down: Only a spring training injury will keep this from happening.
Even more so than with the Mets and d'Arnaud, the Reds have already come out and handed their center field job to Hamilton. The only question is whether they let him lead off or bury him in the eight spot.
ETA: April 2014
What Could Speed It Up: Really, speed Billy Hamilton up?
What Could Slow It Down: Same as with d'Arnaud. Only an injury can slow him down, and even then, he'll still be faster than you.