Edouard Julien Is Reclaiming His Swing In St. Paul

Photo Credit: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Following the Minnesota Twins’ 2-1 series win over the Houston Astros on June 2, Edouard Julien didn’t make his feelings a secret about his demotion.

“It’s unfortunate that I’m here,” Julien said after his St. Paul Saints season debut on Wednesday, “but I am not going to feel bad about myself.”

Minnesota’s front office sent Julien to Triple-A as the corresponding move when they reactivated third baseman Royce Lewis, who’d been out since Opening Day with a quad strain. Julien hit .181/.272/.194 in May (27 games) and led all of MLB with 34 strikeouts looking before the Twins demoted him.

Things were beginning to look up for Julien in his final seven games before the Twins sent him down. He was 4-for-13 with a .308 batting average and had a.500 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) in the series against the Kansas City Royals and Astros. However, strikeouts remain Julien’s most significant problem. He still leads the Twins with 66 on the season, and it’s the issue the front office wants him to fix in St. Paul.

“I’m just going to go to work and hope to have my chance to go back up there,” said Julien, “and I just got to keep doing it.”

The work looked like it was paying off immediately for Julien. He wasted no time hitting a home run the opposite way off the first pitch he had seen at Triple-A on Wednesday night.

“It worked out good,” said Julien. “I got the first pitch and I was up and ready to hit. I’m trying to make adjustments here, and I know it’s been a little harder up there. I just try to keep on hitting and keep doing it.”

But he’s struggled at the plate since that home run. He’s complied a .125/.192/.250 triple slash in the six games the Saints played this week, walked only once and struck out eight times.

Julien isn’t the first player the Twins demoted to Triple-A to go from having a hot first game in Triple-A to being cold the rest of the week. Matt Wallner joined the Saints on April 18. He went 2-for-5 and hit a three-run home run in his first game. However, he only had two hits and nine strikeouts in his next five games.

Wallner has since recovered from his slow start in St. Paul. He’s had six home runs over the last 12 games and leads the team with 11 home runs.

Despite the results of their numbers at Triple-A, the coaching staff’s emphasis isn’t to see them hit a home run every night. Instead, they must regain their confidence to be productive in the majors again.

“Both those guys are kind of searching right now. They’re trying to figure it out,” said Saints manager Toby Gardenhire regarding Julien and Wallner’s time in St. Paul. “They’re both really good players, and they’re both really good hitters. The big thing is just for them to keep getting in the work because eventually, we know both those guys will be back.”

Anyone in the Saints or Twins clubhouses has no doubt that these two will reconfigure their swings to perform at the highest level. It’s only a matter of if not when Julien and Wallner return.

When the Twins demote players who were star rookies, and they don’t show positive results immediately, fans can panic or rush to judgment. But Saints hitting coach Shawn Schlecter has been working most closely with Julien, and he quells any reason for concern.

“Eddy’s a good hitter, and he’s proven that his whole career,” said Schlechter. “Similar to Matt, he’s got some things he’s trying to refine and get back to, and that process is still just beginning. Right now, it’s mainly just letting Eddy know that he is a good hitter, and he is going to find success here as we work through some of this.”

Despite his slow start in St. Paul, Julien has shown flashes of his better self at the plate in that first game on Wednesday. He broke down what went so well for him during his first game back in St. Paul.

“I made a swing change a little bit,” said Julien. “I tried to have a longer stride to be able to adjust to off-speed pitches, and I felt good. I made a bit of contact on off-speed pitches …. but it was good just to be able to go first pitch and then hit the home run opposite field on the fastball, and it felt good as I was just trying something new.”

As the Saints depart for a week in Louisville against the Cincinnati Reds’ Triple-A squad, Julien will have more opportunities to get back to his old form and show that he can be an all-star capable hitter again.

“Don’t be surprised when we see some of that success here in the upcoming weeks,” Schlechter said, “because he’s been a good hitter his whole career, and we’re going to trust his skill set.”

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