Auburn Infielders Reunite In Twins Organization
It’s probably a long shot to expect the former Tigers to one day get the Twins to the major league version—but it looks a lot more possible now than it did a year ago.
Holland, a shortstop drafted by the Twins in the fourth round in 2019, has rebounded from a frustrating debut season and a year idled by Covid to improve his body, his defense and especially his plate discipline.
Julien, a second baseman and third baseman at Auburn, joined the organization in the 18th round of the same draft, didn’t make his professional debut until May.
They opened the season as teammates once more at Low-A Fort Myers and were proving that the lost season was a setback but not an expiration. They were doing that by taking consistently good at-bats.
“Will has some pop in his bat, but he’s learned that it’s hard to show it if you’re swinging at pitchers’ pitches,” Twins director of player development Alex Hassan said. “Eddie just has a natural eye for the strike zone. That helped him settle in quickly.”
That's no exaggeration. Julien charged into the Low-A Southeast lead in walks—50 in his first 47 games—and on-base percentage at .490. Those numbers earned the 23-year-old a promotion to High-A Cedar Rapids in late June.
“When he gets his pitch, he doesn’t miss many,” Hassan said.
Holland, 24, can’t say the same, but the Twins see progress. He flashed power potential with seven homers in 36 games at Rookie-level Elizabethton in 2019, but he hit just .192.
“He didn’t have the best pro debut, which he would acknowledge,” Hassan said. “But the tools are all there. His defense is there. He came in in good shape and has been much more disciplined as a hitter."
An nagging elbow injury interrupted Holland’s season for a month, but he looked restored upon returning, hitting .292 with a homer and five doubles in a seven-game stretch in late June.
“We’ve always believed in him,” Hassan said. “He’s starting to show why.”
— Righthander Jhoan Duran, the Twins’ preseason top pitching prospect, was shut down for six weeks as he dealt with a strain in his right elbow. Doctors advised the Twins that elbow surgery might be avoided if they allow him to rest until August, then build his arm back up slowly. The 23-year-old had a 5.06 ERA in 16 innings for Triple-A St. Paul and had been expected to be called up later this summer.
— Righthander Josh Winder was promoted to St. Paul from Double-A Wichita to replace Duran. Winder, a seventh-round pick from Virginia Military Institute in 2018, posted a 1.98 ERA over 10 starts and 54.2 innings for the Wind Surge.
— Third baseman Jose Miranda was also promoted to St. Paul.