No player in the minor leagues draws more walks than Edouard Julien, which is a terrific skill for a prospect. But don’t worry: the Twins believe they can convince the 24-year-old second baseman to stop.
Well, not stop, exactly. But they want Julien, their 18th-round pick in 2019 out of Auburn, to use that natural pickiness as leverage for collecting bases more than one at a time.
The plan has worked better than they imagined.
“Sometimes walks are a result of having a really good eye and being patient,” Twins president for baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “But sometimes, guys are just being a little too passive,” particularly against command-challenged low-minors pitchers.
That wasn’t a big problem, Falvey said—but it was certainly an opportunity.
“What our hitting guys did was challenge him. ‘Listen, when you hit the ball, you hit it hard. You can do damage,’ “ Falvey said. “ ‘So when it’s 2-0 and it’s a pitch in that zone, go get it. Take advantage of those situations.’
“We want him to find a way to impact the ball when he can.”
Mission accomplished in the Arizona Fall League, where Julien led all batters with 23 walks but also became more aggressive with pitches in the zone, adding a .686 slugging percentage to his .563 on-base percentage.
This spring, that hungry approach made him a star attraction in Twins camp.
When he was there, anyway. Julien, a native of Quebec, left for 10 days to play for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic, where he went 7-for-13 with two homers and, yes, five walks.
When he returned, so did the power. Julien smacked three homers and posted a 1.083 OPS in seven Grapefruit League games.
Julien’s defense at second base needs more development, Falvey said, but the Twins have been impressed with his improvement there, too. He began the season at Triple-A St. Paul, with fans already clamoring for a callup.
“He’s raised his game, and against major league pitching,” Falvey said. “We’re really optimistic about the trajectory he’s on.”