Twins’ Julien homers twice, collects 5 RBIs in AFL

October 22nd, 2022

PHOENIX — Twins infielder Edouard Julien has built a very strong reputation for his knowledge of the strike zone. He’s continued seeing a ton of pitches and drawing walks in the Arizona Fall League, but on Saturday he let his swing do the talking.

Minnesota’s No. 14 prospect went 3-for-4 with two homers and five RBIs for the Glendale Desert Dogs in the second game of the AFL’s tripleheader at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Ironically, one of the few things he didn’t do was walk, but Julien was happy to get on the homer board for the first time this fall.

“It felt great; I felt great coming in here,” Julien said. “To be able to do it in the Fall League and hit two in one game was pretty cool. To just get on the board is a pretty cool experience. It was pretty fun.”

Edouard Julien’s two-run homer
While Glendale eventually lost to the Scottsdale Scorpions, 9-7, with Scottsdale hitting three homers on their own, coming from the Orioles’ Cesar Prieto, the Red Sox’s Stephen Scott and Cal Conley of the Braves, Julien initially put the Desert Dogs up early with a two-run shot off of Orioles starter Noah Denoyer. The left-handed hitter was, not surprisingly, ahead in the count.

“The first at-bat, I was able to get to 2-0 early,” Julien said. “I was just waiting for a fastball and I was able to put a good swing on a fastball that was down the middle and it went to right field.”

After an RBI single in the fifth, Julien came up with no one on in the top of the seventh. This time behind in the count, he showed he has more than enough pop to hit the ball out the other way.

“The second at-bat, it was pretty different,” Julien said. “He got 0-2 on me pretty early and I was just trying to battle and see the ball deep. He threw a fastball up and away and I was able to put a good swing on it as well.”

Julien’s second two-run homer
Julien has been swinging the bat well all fall. He’s hit in eight of his 10 games and had a six-game hit streak snapped on Thursday. Saturday’s contest was actually only the second time he hasn’t drawn a walk and for the fall he’s now hitting .364 and slugging .636.

The fact that he has 13 free passes, thanks to five multi-walk games, and an on-base percentage of .543 here should surprise no one who has followed him in his pro career. Since the Twins took him in the 18th round of the 2019 Draft out of Auburn, Julien has a .437 OBP with a huge affinity for working counts and getting awarded first base. No one has drawn more walks over the past two years than Julien, with his 208 (110 in 2021 and 98 this past season) a whopping 30 BB ahead of the closest competitor.

“I take pride but at the end of the day to make it to the big leagues you have to hit the ball, you have to hit the ball over the fence and you have to hit the ball and get on base,” Julien said. “That’s part of my game. I’m pretty happy about [the walks], but it’s not something I focus on. I just like to swing at strikes and take balls. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to be a better hitter.”

Gameday | Complete AFL coverage
The longer he’s played, the more he’s learned to find the balance between being patient and finding pitches to attack. He took a big step in the right direction in 2022, finishing with a .300/.441/.490 line in his first taste of Double-A. His power-speed combination was also on display, as the infielder hit 17 homers and stole 19 bases. He earned a spot on the second team for MLB Pipeline’s Prospect Team of the Year as a result of his ability to be selectively aggressive.

“I’ve worked on it this whole year,” Julien said. “My main plan was to be able to attack pitches early in the count and that’s what I’ve been trying to do. Put a good swing and win the at-bat in under three pitches. If not, I just take the walk. Trust my eye and trust to be trust to be aggressive in the box.”

While it seems more and more likely that Julien will hit his way to the big leagues, where he might fit into the lineup defensively has been in question. Even during his time at Auburn, he moved around, seeing time at second, third and some outfield. The Twins followed suit, even mixing in first base in 2021. This year in Wichita, he focused only on second base. And while he was the designated hitter on Saturday, his six games of defensive action for Glendale have also only come at the keystone.

“Last year, I used to play everywhere, so every time I came into the game I didn’t really know where I was playing,” Julien said. “This year, I’ve been sticking to second base and I’ve loved it. I’ve worked pretty hard at it and I’m comfortable now and it just makes my offensive game way easier. I don’t have to think about defense and I just go to the plate and hit. So I liked it.”