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On the Astros: Alex Bregman highlights how The Process works

This is what it was all about. Let me tell you why.

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

You know that whole "darkest night, brightest day" thing. It's starting to look pretty bright in Houston.

Many of you slogged through the wasteland with us on TCB. You saw Jeff Keppinger. You will never forget Kaz Matsui's injury history. You followed farm system savior Jay Austin right along with us.

When the Astros hired new GM Jeff Luhnow, things were supposed to be different. Rebuilding came on in a hurry. The whole point of Luhnow was that he builds farm systems. And that's what he set about to do in Houston.

He traded away everything not bolted down in 2012 and did pretty well.

By the next year, he had the top farm system in baseball.

Two years later, the Astros were a half-inning from the American League Championship Series.

But, the point of a good farm system isn't just to look good in rankings. It's to do things like Alex Bregman will do tonight.

The Astros are in the midst of a pennant race, furiously making up ground on the Rangers after Houston's disastrous April. The Cubs, looking to break that pesky postseason drought, added talent on Monday, too.

Except, for the Cubs to get the player who may change their fortunes this season, they had to part with a very good prospect, plus four other players.

Those types of trades are necessary. Luhnow pulled off a few last year to help bolster that surprise playoff run. While Scott Kazmir, Mike Fiers and Carlos Gomez didn't work out like expected, they still helped carry the 2015 team to the postseason.

This year, though, the Astros are adding in a different way. A good farm system is supposed to produce players on a regular basis who can help. It's Carlos Correa changing the game last year. It's Michael Wacha coming out of nowhere for the Cards down the stretch. It's Michael Feliz stepping into a bigger role in the bullpen unexpectedly.

The difference between a good system and a great one is in both that impact and the frequency. Once upon a time, the Astros couldn't have afforded Jon Singleton to bust. They couldn't have afforded for Preston Tucker to struggle early or for the floor to fall out from under Tyler White. They couldn't withstand A.J. Reed acting like a rookie in his first pass through the league.

But, here we are. Instead of worrying over those prospects, Houston trotted out the No. 1 prospect in baseball for his big league debut Monday. Alex Bregman will play and may be just what this team needs to get over the top. And the Astros didn't have to give up a prospect to make it happen.

The Process doesn't always work like this. But, at it's heart, that's what Jeff Luhnow probably envisioned for this team back in 2011. He wanted a group that could be innovative at the big league level while stocking a farm system that could roll out impact talent each summer.

It also means the Astros don't have to sweat out a search for any able-bodied person who can throw 90 mph on the corners like that team from Arlington. They've got former impact minor leaguer Lance McCullers striking out fools left and right.

Bregman will probably struggle, but there's no doubt the system that got him here is working on all cylinders. And that, more than anything, makes me excited for the Astros future.