McTaggart's new article details the impact the front office hopes our prospects can make:
Ricky Bennett drops some philosophy:
"We look at the system from top to bottom and you see bright spots at every level. Throughout the system, you really start to see signs that we're making progress and we're just going to have to keep doing what we've been doing the last couple of years, signing Draft picks and getting them in the system and focusing on individual instruction and getting kids better. We're making progress, but we're not where we need to be. We're going to continue to be aggressive and try to acquire players through trades and the waiver wire and free agency," Bennett said. "But in terms of acquiring players that have an impact on the Major League team, you've got to do that through the Draft. If we continue to Draft the right way and develop the right way, we'll start to see impact players coming through our system. If you look across the league, most important position players were drafted and developed."
On Castro (who apparently is the source of inter-office turmoil about whether he'll open the season on the Astros):
"I don't think any of us know the true answer to when he'll be ready. He's going to get the opportunity. Obviously, he had a good year this past year from a developmental standpoint and we were happy with his progress. He has a good attitude and will continue to get better as he gains experience. He will be in big league camp in 2010 and his play will dictate where he starts the season. If he shows he's ready to handle the Major League job, it's something we'll consider."
"He's a natural leader. Guys gravitate to him, and he enjoys playing the game and understands the game. The leadership is the one thing that stood out for us, other than the physical tools. He's going to be a good player. He'll come into our Minor League camp this spring and we'll let his ability and maturity dictate where he goes. Only time will tell when he's going to be ready at the Major League level."
On Chris Johnson:
"He really made progress the past two months of the season in July and August and didn't fare as well in September when he got an opportunity to play at the Major League level. That doesn't take away from his progress prior to that. He had a good Spring Training last [season] and will be back in big league camp and we'll have to see how he handles it."
Just to point out: Chris Johnson got 22 ABs in a month. 22.
On Jordan Lyles:
He's got a chance to be special. He continues to learn. He had a good instructional league and he really took hold of what we were trying to get accomplished with him. He, too, will be challenged this coming spring. Where he ends up, we're not quite sure, but he's going to get the ball and continue to compete and that's the one thing we like about him the most -- he's not afraid to complete."
He's very mature for his age  and has a ton of experience in international competition. I don't think he's going to be overwhelmed when he's in Spring Training. From an ability standpoint, he has an average to above-average fastball and a very good breaking ball that he's starting to command and gain more confidence in."