Overall, I don't know which way to go. Within the last five years, we have seen Mike Pelfrey go from being drafted in the first round of the 2005 draft to pitching in the major leagues in 2006. He had a rough season in 2011, but does that have anything to do with the fact that he was in the big leagues so soon? I don't think so.
Another factor that has nothing to do with it is a pitcher's age when they are drafted. Some say because Zach Wheeler was drafted when he was 19, he needs more time to develop. Doc Gooden was in the majors by the time he was 19, with about a year and a half of minor league experience. In addition, he pitched a full season in A ball before starting the 1984 season with the Mets.
Maybe the actual results in the minor leagues are a little overrated also. Teams do rely on what the scouts say about a pitcher's stuff, mechanics and ability to get major league hitters out. Its not all about the numbers. To me, if a pitcher has to refine secondary pitches, locate his fastball where he wants it to go and gain confidence, he needs to figure that out in the minor leagues. It serves no point for a young pitcher to get beat up in the majors just to "earn his stripes".
I compared three pitchers who had a fast path to the major leagues, Paul Wilson, Mike Pelfrey and Doc Gooden. We know the results of Wilson and Gooden, and regardless of what some may say, Pelfrey's status is still to be determined. Pelfrey made it to the majors the quickest (2006) after being drafted (2005). Both Pelfrey and Wilson were 21 when they were drafted, Gooden 17. Wilson was 0-7, 4.56 ERA in 11 starts in 1994 after being drafted the same year. In 1995, he was 11-6, 2.41 in 26 starts in AA and AAA before starting the 1996 season in the Mets rotation. Pelfrey was 7-3, 2.43 ERA in 18 starts in his first year in the minors before being called up to the Mets the same year of 2006. Gooden was an exception to the rule. A talent that may come around once in a lifetime, he was a fixture in the Mets rotation at the age of 19.
How does that compare to the Mets prospects Harvey and Wheeler? Wheeler was drafted in 2009 by the Giants and pitched 2010 in low A Augusta. He was 3-3, 3.99 ERA in 21 games, 13 starts. He didn't pitch above high A ball last year, going 9-7, 3.52 in 22 starts for San Jose and Port St.Lucie. Experts say he needs more time in the minors and this is a case where his progress is going to be judged by his success in the minors. Harvey is coming off his first season as a pro. Making it as far as AA Binghamton, he was 13-5, 3.32 ERA in 26 starts. His numbers, unless alarmingly bad, will not derail his path to the majors. Scouts say he is ready and could make an impact this season.
Pitchers have no set schedules as to when they make it to the big leagues. Factors such as age and time in the minors mean absolutely nothing. If things break right for the Mets, they could have Harvey, Wheeler and in some capacity Mejia and Familia pitching for them in 2013. But, I don't think it should be mandatory. Bring them up when they are ready.