Some players have all the hype and others just do good work. This week in our hitter profiles we are not focusing on a big name, like Shohei Ohtani as he continues to provide daily content for fantasy writers. How can we look the other way with his complete game shutout and multi-homer performance in a doubleheader against the Blue Jays? Drop your prediction for his off-season landing spot in the comments below as he will be demanding a historic contract coming off an MVP-worthy 2023. Anyway, where were we? Right, focusing on a lesser name that needs bigger attention (not Ohtani), we dive deep on Edouard Julien of the Minnesota Twins in this week’s edition of Hitter Profiles.
Julien was drafted out of high school in the 37th round by the Phillies but opted to attend Auburn instead. The Canadian attended Auburn and also played in the Cape Cod league. After launching 27 homers in his first two seasons in college, Julien was drafted in the 18th round by the Twins. Signing him away from Auburn, the Twins gave him nearly half a million dollars in bonus in 2019. That signaled a commitment to the youngster and it is possible to see why with the kind of damage he was doing on the College World Series stage.
Coming into the minors, he lost almost two years due to surgery and the pandemic. Scouting reports were initially skeptical of the overall approach giving him low grades on his hit tool due to swing and miss concerns and a generally passive approach. His power was his calling tool with strong exit velocities and more to be tapped into if he could improve his hit tool at the plate.
Edouard did not crack the prospect rankings until 2022 where he was the Twins’ number fifteen prospect and then moved up to number four coming into 2023. Looking back at his results, it is clear why he was moving up the rankings quickly. In 2021 across A and high-A, he launched 18 homers, stole 34 bases, and walked at roughly a 20% clip. He followed that performance up in 2022, by hitting .300 in a full AA season with 17 homers and 19 steals he showed that he was not a fluke. The key calling card continued to be his patience as he walked at a 19% clip while striking out just barely more at a 25% rate.
Coming into 2023, there was some potential that Julien would get a chance in the majors based on opportunities from injury at the major league level. His defense still had questions, but there had been enough progress that he could hold his own at the keystone. He got a cup of coffee in early April and had limited success without his patented patience at the plate. Injuries opened up another opportunity in late May where he showed a bit more patience and a little power in his limited playing time of roughly 40 plate appearances before heading back down. Since being recalled on June 10th, he has hit .345 with an 89.9 MPH exit velocity, six homers, 21 runs, and an 18% barrel rate landing at a 187 wRC+. The steals have been down compared to the minors as his overall speed is merely league average.
At this point, the Twins do seem committed to Julien as Jorge Polanco is getting reps at third base to keep Julien in the lineup. They do not seem to believe he can hit against lefties as he has only had 22 plate appearances against southpaws this season. He has also had an insanely high BABIP at .416, though he carried a high mark in the minors and a strikeout rate over 30%. That said, his patience has improved in July as he is striking out a 26% rate. Looking at expected stats, his xBA is .239 highlighting that he has a lot of average regression coming his way. Looking at comparable batters, we see names such as Brent Rooker, Jake Burger, and Christoper Morel. Those are strong sluggers, but highlight that there are some red flags for the rest of this season. We do have to admit, the swing is pretty though.
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) July 26, 2023
For the rest of 2023, I would be looking to sell Julien as he is due for some strong regression. For those other managers not looking below the surface, there is likely a sell high opportunity. Beyond 2023, I see a lot of potential for Julien to adjust to full playing time which should see his plate discipline improve. We have the potential for a .260+ bat with 25 home run power and the upside for more. That feels like a keeper to me.