HOUSTON -- Nolan Ryan, an executive adviser to the Houston Astros, remains hopeful that the club is on the right track with regards to its prospects, even in the midst of another slow start to another season with low expectations.

On the heels of three consecutive 100-loss seasons, the Astros fell to 12-27 with their 4-0 loss to the Texas Rangers on Monday. Ryan, whose stewardship as chief executive officer with Texas played a critical role to the Rangers' perennial status as American League West favorites, made clear that the Astros are in the early stages of building a similarly sustainable winner.

"Obviously you would hope that they would get off to a better start, but it's still early in the season," Ryan said. "I was optimistic that they would win more ballgames than they have so far, but that's subject to change.

"I was pleased with some of the young talent I've seen in the system. I think they have some talented kids. But with kids, it's a matter of how long it takes them to develop, and you have to be patient with them."

Five of the Astros' top 10 prospects are right-handed pitchers, which Ryan was during his Hall of Fame career. Although he doesn't spend time scouting, Ryan certainly has an eye keen enough to spot potential talent.

"The one thing that I think is encouraging about the Astros' minor league system is they have quality arms pretty much on every level," Ryan said. "That doesn't mean that they'll all get here at the same time, but I think in a short period of time, in two or three years, those kids will serve us and make a difference in the pitching staff."