Astros Prospect Update: Jacob Melton heating up, Zach Cole, Colin Barber

With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, here is how Houston's farm system is looking lately.
Corpus Christi Hooks v Amarillo Sod Poodles
Corpus Christi Hooks v Amarillo Sod Poodles / John E. Moore III/GettyImages
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The importance of Houston Astros' farm system has increased and changed a lot over the last month. At the end of May, the focus was on looking for help somewhere in the minors to stop the bleeding while looking ahead to a trade deadline, where it looked like Houston would be adding to their prospect ranks with a sell-off.

Now, after the Astros posted the league's best record in June, their prospects can now firmly be considered trade assets.

While the Astros aren't out of the woods yet given that they just got back over .500, it is a hell of a lot more likely now that they are buyers at the trade deadline like Dana Brown had been preaching all along. If that's the case, they have a lot of homework to do in regard to determining valuing and deciding who to part with.

So what's happening down on the farm in Houston?

Jacob Melton is finally doing what Astros fans were hoping he would

The Astros' top prospect is easily Jacob Melton now that Houston finally got Jose Abreu out of their lineup and gave Joey Loperfido the playing time he deserved all along. However, it has been hard to evaluate Melton this season as he missed a chunk of time in late May and early June with a wrist injury, and upon his return it took him a little while for him to get going again.

Luckily, Melton seems to have found his way again. Over his last seven games, he has six extra-base hits, including three homers. That'll play. Now, he weirdly doesn't have a single walk over that same span, so he is going to have start showing some more patience. However, it does seem as though he's finally over his early-season doldrums and the wrist injury as he's back to punishing baseballs again.

Astros Prospects: Zach Cole is on a heater

Cole has been featured here previously when he went on a tear at the beginning of June. True to form, he cooled off almost immediately after we gave him props, which is pretty much par for the course for any player in the Houston organization (we will try to use our powers for good). His average is down to .226, and his .737 OPS this season is now mediocre at best. However, it does appear as though he is breaking out of his slump again and we are just going to hope that the good news sticks this time.

After not doing much of anything for a couple of weeks, Cole has three homers in his last three games while driving in six runs. He is going to have to do more than just hit homers occasionally before fans can get too excited about him, but his recent hot stretch gives hope that he is starting to see the ball better again.

What is going on with Astros prospect Colin Barber?

When he is right, Colin Barber is a guy that has the ability to hit to all fields, and with some real pop. During his first four seasons in the minor leagues, he was pretty much a lock for around an .800 OPS while hitting for decent average and power, even if no particular number jumped off the page.

Unfortunately, not only has Barber's numbers dipped in 2024, but he is missing chunks of time here and there and has only played in 10 games since June 4. The most likely thing is that he has some minor injury he's trying to play through and avoid being placed on the IL. However, it is worth remembering that Barber missed time last year with a hip injury and one hopes that issue isn't causing him problems this season as well.

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