This is part-seven 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.
Heaney finished the 2013 season in Double-A, although he made just six starts there after spending the majority of the season in the Florida State League. He should return to Double-A, and now that he's there, he's only a phone call away from the majors. The Marlins have shown a penchant for being very aggressive with their prospects and Heaney is more prepared for the majors than some of the players they promoted last season. He should probably split the season between Double and Triple-A, but he likely won't get the chance.
ETA: Summer 2014
What Could Speed It Up: The Marlins being the Marlins.
What Could Slow It Down: If he has any troubles in Double-A or if the Marlins take a more typical schedule with Heaney and let him spend time in Triple-A.
Sanchez has the arsenal that any pitcher would kill for, but he still has quite a way to go to make it work. For starters, he still walks far too many hitters. Control may never be his strong suit, but it will need to improve before he gets to the majors. Secondly, despite being around for what feels like forever already, Sanchez still has yet to throw more than 90 innings in a minor league season. He's spent a full year at each of the A-ball levels the past two years, but it's time for him to step up and go deeper into games like the workhorse he looks like he should become - an issue that's partly his fault for throwing too many pitches and the fault of the Blue Jays, who have restricted him thus far. He should still need a full season in Double and Triple-A.
ETA: Late 2015
What Could Speed It Up: If the Blue Jays take the reigns off and Sanchez responds admirably.
What Could Slow It Down: If he continues to walk too many batters and restrict his ability to work deep into games.
There were questions about whether or not Meyer would ever turn into any kind of reliable major league starter because of potential control issues, but those questions are long gone. The only question now is how long the Twins can hold off before calling him up. Meyer's development into a top-of-the-rotation starter is one of the keys of the Twins future, so they will want to make sure they get it right, but they also have a fan base desperate for a taste of what is to come. Meyer has 13 Double-A starts under his belt and could return there for a month or two or he could head straight to Triple-A. Either way, he'll probably finish the season in Minnesota.
ETA: Late 2014
What Could Speed It Up: If he starts the season in Triple-A and has success, he could be in the majors earlier in the summer.
What Could Slow It Down: Injury or poor performance.
World Series base-running gaffe aside, the Cardinals know what they have in Wong and are prepared to make him their everyday second baseman in 2014. They have other options without forcing him into the lineup, but they are ready to make the move and there's little reason to believe he won't be out there on Opening Day.
ETA: April 2014
What Could Speed It Up: N/A
What Could Slow It Down: Theoretically, Wong could have a terrible spring and Mark Ellis could get the nod, but I don't see that happening.
The Royals already have one rookie penciled into their starting rotation, so that should keep them from rushing Zimmer this spring, no matter how good he looks throwing bullpens in March. Zimmer just barely touched Double-A last year (four starts), a similar situation to the one Yordano Ventura was in last year at this time and he went on to pitch in Double-A, Triple-A and the majors last year. It wouldn't ne far-fetched to see Zimmer do the same thing this year.
ETA: Late 2014
What Could Speed It Up: He probably won't move too much faster than that, but if the Royals have injury issues and their hand is forced, Zimmer could be the best mid-season option.
What Could Slow It Down: The road hasn't been completely smooth for Zimmer, so if he hits another bump along the way, the Royals could hold off until next season for a call-up.
Prospects like Urias make this exercise kind of stupid. Urias spent the entire 2013 season in full-season ball at age 16. Even if he spends a full-season at each of the remaining levels of the minors, he'd be in the majors by 20. Can we really project that? Yes and no. Urias could easily return to the Low-A Midwest League this year. He made 18 starts there last year and was incredibly good, but he also threw just 54 1/3 innings, as he was on a very restricted innings limit. The Dodgers could give him another shot at the level with the reigns loosened slightly to see what he can do. Also, exposing a 17-year-old to the pitching conditions in the California League could be considered child abuse. There are so many variables between Urias in the majors that any prediction is a guess, but barring injury, it's hard to see the Dodgers being able to hold him back until his 21st birthday.
What Could Speed It Up: If Urias keeps up his double-digit K/9 rate throughout the minors, the Dodgers won't be able to hold him back.
What Could Slow It Down: Any number of variables could derail a 17-year-old pitching prospect, but the most likely scenario is that, despite his success, the Dodgers take their time with Urias and build up his workload.
It's always hard to tell the development speed of a high school pick who has yet to reach a full-season league, but Frazier could move quickly through the minors. His 31 percent strikeout rate in short-season ball, however, could be an indication that he'll need plenty of minor league at-bats to bring out his full potential. He should get a full-season assignment to begin the season, and likely will spend the entire season in Low-A ball. He could be a guy the Indians want to give a full season to at each level, but in a weak overall farm system, he could be pushed along more aggressively than that.
What Could Speed It Up: Frazier has a good bat and good power that could warrant mid-season promotions, especially in the low minors.
What Could Slow It Down: If that strikeout rate is indicative of future issues.
Castellanos will be the Tigers Opening Day third baseman barring a spring training injury. Sometimes it's just that simple.
ETA: Opening Day 2014
What Could Speed It Up: N/A
What Could Slow It Down: It appears that only an injury will change the Tigers plan.
The Giants have moved Crick up the organizational ladder as though he doesn't have career-diminishing command issues, so there's no real reason to believe that they'll stop now. Crick spent the entire 2013 season in High-A, but made only 14 starts thanks to an oblique injury. He was dominant while there despite walking over five batters per nine innings. He could return to San Jose, but it wouldn't be shocking to see the Giants jump him right to Double-A Richmond. If he gets the walks under control, look out.
ETA: Late 2015
What Could Speed It Up: Cutting the walks down slightly would be just the green light the Giants are waiting for.
What Could Slow It Down: In addition to the walks, there are some issues with the consistency of Crick's breaking pitches. If they don't come around, he could end up in the bullpen as a late-inning reliever, but that transition won't come until the Giants have given up all hope of him as a starter.
Odor should spend most of the 2014 season in Double-A where he finished last season with a brief cameo, but the real problem in projecting his ETA is with the Rangers depth. Assuming Jurickson Profar takes to second base the way we expect he will, there won't be a place for Odor in the middle of the Rangers infield until later this decade. That's a problem that is still down the road, but as the Rangers have already shown, it's one that's not always easily remedied. His bat looks like it's going to be plenty good enough to play every day, and it should force the issue for the Rangers before the end of next season.
ETA: Late 2015
What Could Speed It Up: If the Rangers have an opening, Odor could be ready for the majors by next summer.
What Could Slow It Down: Depth chart issues could force the Rangers to use Odor as a trade chip.