Medford's Melton signs with Astros

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Jul. 26—All that Medford's Jacob Melton wanted was an opportunity to be a professional baseball player, and the Houston Astros provided just that a little over a week ago when they drafted him 64th overall in the Major League Baseball draft.

That opportunity became more of a reality Tuesday when the Oregon State outfielder officially signed with the Astros, eschewing a final season with the Beavers as expected for the Pac-12 Conference player of the year.

Melton and first-round pick Drew Gilbert (28th overall) were each in Houston on Tuesday after coming to agreements Monday, touring their future home ballpark at Minute Maid Park and taking some promotional photos as they inked their deals.

Both center fielders signed for a little under their slot value, with Melton signing for $1 million (slot 64 value equaled $1,104,100) and Gilbert signing for $2.5 million (slot 28 value equaled $2,621.700).

"I'm just excited to have the opportunity to play for such a great organization that does so well with player development," Melton said after being drafted July 17. "I think honestly I got really lucky to go where I did."

A 2018 South Medford High graduate, Melton became the highest local draft pick since ex-North Medford High pitcher Braden Shipley was taken 15th overall in 2013 by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Interestingly, Melton was listed 39th overall on the MLB.com Top 250 Draft Prospects list heading into the draft, and Gilbert was at No. 32.

The 21-year-old Melton, who can also play first base or a corner outfield spot, is coming off a prolific campaign that saw him bat .360 with 17 home runs and 21 stolen bases for the Beavers. Melton also set an OSU single-season record with 175 total bases, and the 6-foot-3, 210-pounder tied the school record of 83 RBIs set by Adley Rutschman (2018).

Melton and left-handed pitcher Cooper Hjerpe, who was drafted 22nd overall by the St. Louis Cardinals and signed soon after, became the fifth and sixth unanimous first-team All-Americans in Oregon State history in 2022.

In 102 games played Oregon State over three seasons — including a 2020 campaign shortened by COVID — Melton batted .364 overall with 27 doubles, seven triples, 23 home runs and 108 RBIs with 29 stolen bases. His .660 slugging percentage is now the program standard.

Prior to joining Oregon State, Melton twice earned first-team all-state honors at South Medford before earning all-NWAC Southern Region first team and Gold Glove recognition at Linn-Benton Community College.

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