Edouard Julien grew up in Quebec, Canada. He went to Cardinal Roy Secondary School in L’Acienne-Lorette, a suburb just west of Quebec City. He starred on the Canadian national teams as he grew up. He played with current Twins prospects Jordan Balazovic and Landon Leach and former Twins minor leaguer Matt Jones.
Julien said, “I played on the junior national team at 16-years-old. I was pretty lucky to be a part of it. I don’t think I would be where I am today without being on that team.”
In 2017, he was selected in the 37th round of the MLB draft by the Phillies. Instead of signing, he chose to attend Auburn University.
“I had different opportunities, but Auburn was a pretty good spot for me because Coach Bohanan at the time was a recruiter there and he usually recruits a lot of Canadians. He’s got a pretty good connection with the Team Canada coach, so it made me pretty comfortable to go with him because I knew he had a lot of Canadians before. And I liked the place. Auburn was a good fit. It’s a good conference, and I wanted to go play college and get my game a little bit better for the next level.”
As a freshman in 2018, he hit .275/.398/.556 (.954) with seven doubles and 17 homers. He broke Frank Thomas’s freshman record with 69 RBI. He didn’t have quite as strong a season in 2019. He hit .258/.388/.453 (.841) with 14 doubles and ten homers. Individually, he was disappointed, but his team played in the College World Series.
“It’s one of the coolest experiences that I’ve had. To play in front of a lot of people. To play for your school and compete for the NCAA championship, that was pretty cool. I enjoyed it a lot.”
One of his teammates is a current teammate and fellow 2019 Twins draft pick Will Holland.
“I played two years with him. He’s a very, very good shortstop. He’s a five-tool player. He can run. He can hit. He can throw. He’s very, very good.”
The Twins drafted Julien in the 18th round as a draft-eligible sophomore. He didn’t think he would sign. He wanted to go back to Auburn and have a better season. However, the Twins came to him late in the process and gave him 4th round money. He signed.
“In my head, I was going to go back to college and have a better year because my sophomore year wasn’t very good. Just before the signing date, they offered me and I decided to sign. It was kind of crazy, but I’m happy I did, and I’m happy I’m here now.”
Soon after, he went to Lima, Peru, to represent Canada in the Pan-Am Games. Unfortunately, he didn’t even get to play.
“First practice there, we were doing cuts-and-relays. I cut a ball from right field and tried to throw it to home plate. It just flew to the right, and I heard a pop in my elbow. I knew something happened to my arm. I was scared and stressing a lot because there were no doctors in Peru that could tell me what I had. It was pretty stressful. When I came back to Florida, I had an MRI and it told me I had a tear in my UCL.
As a position player, it is likely he would have been ready to play sometime in the middle of the 2020 season. Instead, there was no 2020 season, so he went back to Quebec.
“I went back home. It was cool. I’d never really had a summer with my family, my friends. I enjoyed it. I hung out with my friends.”
So as you can imagine, Julien was very excited to get the 2021 season started. The 22-year-old made his professional debut with the Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels.
“It was special. I had goosebumps. I was stressed. I wasn’t sure what to expect. But I was ready to go and attack and play the best baseball I can. I play 100% every time I go out there and that’s what I’m trying to do every day.”
After missing so much time, you might think that his approach or plate discipline might take some time to come back. According to his Mighty Mussels Manager Brian Meyer, he’s maintained that all along.
“He’s shown that plate discipline even going back to spring training games. You can always tell when Eddie’s up, especially having this automated strike zone system, if there’s a ball that’s off the plate and it’s called a ball, it’s probably a ball. You’re not really guessing or questioning the human umpire, because he does have such a good eye at the plate.”
He has an On-Base Percentage over .500 as he is approaching 100 plate appearances on the season (and in his career). However, Meyer added, “He’s a multifaceted hitter and defender. He puts together really quality at bats every time out there. He takes his fair share of walks, but when he gets a pitch in the zone, he gets his swing off and he’s trying to do damage on it.”
Julien has walked 22 times and has 23 hits including seven doubles, a triple and on Tuesday, he hit his first professional home run.
Julien notes that he’s just trying to keep it simple. “I’m not trying to do too much. Trying to put the ball in play and be locked in and not throw many at bats away as I did in college, and to be more concentrated.”
He continued, “I try to take my walks. Essentially I try to make the pitcher beat me, and if he throws it over the plate and it’s something I think I can handle, I’m going to try to put a barrel on it. I think that’s the type of player I am, a little bit of power and I’m going to try to get on base.”
The goal is just to try to maintain it over the course of a 120-game season. “Of course I’m trying to cut down on my strikeouts and put the ball in play more. I’m pretty happy with what I’m doing right now, and I’m just trying to have good at bats and being focused, and that’s my main thing, to be 100% locked in on every at bat and not throw any at bats away. It’s a long season. I know it’s going to be hard, but I’ve got to take care of every at bat.”
He began the season hitting third or fourth in the Mussels lineup. Recently, he has been hitting at the top of the lineup and continues to thrive.
“There’s a lot of college hitters, and we’ve been helping each other. We have a lot of good hitters on this team. I have protection in the lineup. I go up there. I just try to get on base because I know somebody’s going to drive me in.”
He’s also continuing to adapt his game, to add elements. For instance, in his two seasons at Auburn, he had ten stolen bases in 127 games. In his 21 games with Ft. Myers, he already has nine stolen bases without being caught.
His manager admits, “I didn’t really know about his speed or base running ability coming into the season, and watching him over the first 10-12 games, it was evident, he’s a really good baserunner, very instinctive. I wouldn’t say he’s the fastest, if you put him on a watch, but he does get really good jumps at first base, pays attention to what the pitchers are doing, tries to pick up little tendencies to where he can steal a base and that’s why he’s been so successful with it so far.”
For Julien, it’s not necessarily something new, it’s just something that wasn’t a focus in college.
“When I was younger, I was more of a slap hitter who could run a lot and I stole a lot of bases. Then I went to college and they changed my swing and made me a power hitter. I think the speed of the game was taken away from me. I feel free here. They’re letting me go and I have the green light. I just like to be aggressive and take everything I can.”
And where will he play defensively? Following Tommy John surgery, that’s certainly a question to ask, but like many in the system, his goal is to be versatile enough to keep his bat in the lineup.
According to Meyer, “I think more on the defensive side, with the throwing part, he does look very comfortable at second base, and he played third base in college, and we ran him out in the outfield and he held his own out there. He’s played a little bit of first base too. So just a versatile guy, so if he keeps hitting and he keeps that versatility defensively, he could be a very valuable asset to the organization.””
Julien acknowledges, “I’d say I’m more comfortable at second base, but I’m aware that I can be more of a utility guy and my bat is what’s going to keep me in the lineup. I’m comfortable at second. I played left field the other day and I liked it too. I’m ready to play outfield, second base, third, first, wherever the coach wants me to play, I’ll be ready.”
And after nearly two years away from baseball, Julien appears ready to take on anything. He hasn’t played since Auburn was eliminated from the 2019 College World Series because of injury and then a pandemic, but he hasn’t missed a beat.
Coming into Friday’s game, Julien is hitting .338/.505/.515 (1.020) with seven doubles, a triple, a homer, 18 runs scored and 14 driven in and is nine for nine in stolen base attempts through the first 21 games.