Edouard Julien Poised to be an Everyday Player for the 2024 Twins

Edouard Julien has become one of the top building blocks in the Twins system. He should become the team's long-term second baseman this year.

Edouard Julien of the Minnesota Twins celebrates during a spring training game against the Boston Red Sox at the Lee County Sports Complex.
FORT MYERS, FL- MARCH 01: Edouard Julien #47 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates during a spring training game against the Boston Red Sox on March 1, 2024 at the Lee County Sports Complex in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

Infielder Edouard Julien was one of the top-ranked Canadian-born prospects heading into the 2023 season, with the Quebec, Que. product eventually making his big league debut in mid-April. While he did find himself back in Triple-A on a few occasions, the 24-year-old seems to be the Twins’ go-to option at second base following his last call-up back on June 10th.

For the majority of the 2023 season, whenever Julien’s name was pencilled into the lineup, he was leading off for the Twins; doing so in 55 of the games he started. At the plate, the left-handed batter put forward a .263/.381/.459 slash line with 16 home runs, 37 RBI, and 64 walks while posting a .839 OPS and 130 OPS+ in his abbreviated rookie campaign. While the strikeout rate was higher than one would hope (31.4%), he made up for it in his chase rate and BB%, sitting in the 100th and 98th percentile respectively. Julien finished the season with a 2.6 bWAR and earned two third-place votes in the 2023 AL Rookie of the Year voting tally.

In the postseason, Julien struggled in the two-game series versus the Blue Jays in the AL Wild Card (1-for-6 with one walk) but turned things around in the ALDS against the Astros. Against Houston, he went 4-for-11 (.364) while adding two doubles, a home run, two RBI, and four walks compared to six strikeouts before the Twins were bounced from the playoffs.

Edouard Julien is Becoming an Important Twins Building Block

Defensively, Julien has found a home at second base, which was the biggest concern for scouts as he was looking to make a permanent move to the big leagues. While his arm strength isn’t in the upper tiers compared to other second basemen in the league, he sat neutral in terms of Outs Above Average and made just two errors all season long en route to a -3 Defensive Runs Saved and a .991 fielding percentage.

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Off the field, Julien has been taking massive strides in his fielding ability coming into the new campaign, which has garnered the attention of his manager Rocco Baldelli as the Twins second baseman has his sights set on a Gold Glove Award.

“He was not originally an exceptional second baseman,” said Baldelli, speaking to Steve Kornacki at MLB.com. “But he’s worked himself into being a guy that can play major league second base, and that’s taken a lot of work on his end.”

This spring, the competition for opportunities at second base is few and far between compared to previous spring training camps. The Minnesota Twins traded away Jorge Polanco and Nick Gordon this past offseason, who both made appearances on the right side of second last year. The Twins also still have Kyle Farmer in the mix, who could make regular reps at second this year.

The path is clearer for Julien to be the club’s bonafide second baseman this season and beyond as he continues to get exposure at the highest level. Even more so if he can continue to improve on his defensive ability while continuing to make hard contact and walk at a high rate while bringing down the strikeouts.

Another hurdle Julien will have to overcome is his numbers against southpaws, as the left-handed batter struggled when facing a similar handness at the plate last year. The Twins would strategically use him against RHPs in 2023 and less against southpaws, with the rookie Canuck authoring a .447 OPS with 16 strikeouts (34.8% of at-bats) with one double and one RBI against left-handers during limited action.

This is something Julien has acknowledged this spring as he tries to cement himself as an everyday player for the Twins, “The biggest thing for me in the offseason was to be better against lefties… I told the coaches I wanted to be better and have a chance to play against lefties. They gave me a couple of opportunities, and I’ve been seeing the ball way better against lefties. It’s been much better.”

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So far this spring, Julien is hitting all the right notes for the Twins coaching staff to give him continuous reps at second.

The Junior National Team alum has gone 10-for-29 at the plate (.345) with a pair of home runs, six RBI and six walks compared to eight strikeouts. He owns a 1.058 OPS in the small sample size with one double on record and against left-handers, Julien has two hits through eight at-bats with a walk and three strikeouts. He leads the Twins in walks so far this spring and his two home runs have him tied with other Twins regulars while sitting just behind Royce Lewis for the RBI lead.

Looking ahead, there is no doubt that Julien will be on the Opening Day squad on March 28th when the Twins head to Kansas City to face the Royals. Should he find a way to continue improving on the field and put the barrel to the ball when facing left-handed pitchers, the Minnesota Twins have a dependable option at second base for the foreseeable future.