Edouard Julien Is Minnesota's Most Impatient Patient Hitter

Photo Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Edouard Julien first met Derek Shoman three years ago in Cedar Rapids. The Minnesota Twins had taken Julien out of Auburn in the 18th round of the 2019 draft; Shoman was a hitting coach on the rise. Julien and Shoman butted heads. Julien wanted to wait for his pitch. Shoman wanted him to swing when the pitcher made a mistake early in the count.

Shoman grins ear to ear as he recalls their early interactions.

You see me smile. I love working with him. We joke, he’s like my son. And he is like that because I’m extremely hard on him at times. It’s a very abrasive and hawkish approach with him that I think some people see from the outside, and they go, ‘Oh my God, is this really happening?’

But it’s because he’s super receptive, he wants answers quickly, and that’s where I have to reel him in. It’s not this deep dive we have to go down. It’s just pretty simple and whatever it is at that time. But he’s seeking, he’s searching, and he wants it right now. So I have to kinda pull him back in when he gets like that.

He immediately saw a major leaguer in Julien, even though he was the 539th pick in his class. The Twins must have seen something, too. They gave him a $493,000 bonus, the highest number in that round. The New York Mets took Tanner Murphy one pick ahead of him and gave him $100,000. The Philadelphia Phillies took Nick Lackney out of the University of Minnesota, and he signed for $5,000. Only Mahki Backstrom ($397,000) got a similar number.

In 2017, the Phillies drafted Julien in the 37th round out of Cardinal Roy Secondary School in Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec. It’s not like Julien came out of nowhere. Still, he’s from frigid French Canada in a sport where most American players come from the Sun Belt. Similarly, most foreign players come from Spanish-speaking areas in South America. Julien didn’t speak English until he got to Auburn, and he’s one of two players from Quebec City to reach the majors. He’s a late-round pick with a unique background, but Shoman rode him hard because he saw his potential.

Listen, we butted heads early on in 2021. Two strong personalities. And we did butt heads in Low-A, and a little bit of that vetting process had to complete itself. Then we got there, and we started to get to work.

But he is super receptive. He has been, he really has been from the get[-go], and it’s great. He comes out to my facility, Athletes HQ, in Chicago, in the offseason and hits, and we stay in touch regularly. But it’s a pleasure, man. Like I said, it was awesome to see him walk through the door. It was awesome for me to be here and see that, but he has earned it. It wasn’t a matter of if; it was just a matter of when.

When I asked Julien who has most influenced his career, Shoman was the first name out of his mouth. Julien hit .299/.490/.456 in 47 games with Single-A Fort Myers before the Twins promoted him to High-A Cedar Rapids, where he met Shoman. Julien finished 2021 by hitting .247/.397/.494 in 65 games with Cedar Rapids, and the Twins promoted him to Double-A, where he worked with Shoman again. He hit .300/.441/.490 in Wichita against players a year and a half older than him. Julien reached the majors this year after hitting .287/.442/.482 in Triple-A St. Paul and hit his first home run at Target Field on Wednesday.

“I thought I had to do a better job at the plate of staying through the ball,” he said. “I’ve been rolling over a lot of stuff, and I’ve been chasing, which I usually did not do in the minors. That’s been my biggest goal here, to sustain my approach and not try to do too much.”

On Saturday, he went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a homer against the Toronto Blue Jays, the team he grew up rooting for. Again, he hit a home run to the opposite field, which he calls his power alley. He admits he was trying to do too much in his first stint with the Twins (April 12 to 20). Since they recalled him on May 20, Julien has approached his at-bats more like he did in the minors.

I was just trying to do a little too much at times. The first time I was here, I was trying to juice the ball or swing harder when it’s just a normal game, right? It’s not because you’re in the big leagues that you have to change your approach or change your swing. I just try to stay in myself and not try to do too much. And obviously, the ball is going to go if you hit it well.

To stick with the Twins, Julien must find the balance between forcing the pitcher to throw him the pitch he wants without letting a pitch he can crush go by early in the count. He must stay true to his identity as a methodical hitter, but sometimes that means swinging earlier than he wants to. It goes against his nature. He worked with Josue Peley at home in Quebec, who Showman credits with laying a strong hitting foundation. He took his patient approach to Auburn, where he hit .275/.398/.556 as a 19-year-old in the SEC. And he leans on it in the majors, sometimes to a fault.

If I see him take something that I know he can hammer and at least get a swing off on, and he does it a second time in an at-bat, maybe a third time, I’m gonna have words with him. And that irritates me because he’s too damn good, and I just need to remind him that he’s too damn good. He’s deserving of being here, and you can’t give free passes. Pitchers can’t, they can’t live with those pitches, with you not getting a swing off. That’s not fair.

Julien sees the ball well. He has an intentional, patient approach at the plate. He studies tape, takes extra swings in the cage, and inquires about the hitting process. Julien may be one of two people from Quebec City to reach the majors, a Francophone in a clubhouse full of English and Spanish speakers. A player the Twins took late in the draft who made it to the show. The most impatient patient hitter in the system.

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