Sunday Notes: Quebec’s Edouard Julien is the Twins’ Most-Patient Prospect
Edouard Julien has a unique profile, and potentially a bright future. A native of Quebec City who attended Auburn University, the 22-year-old Minnesota Twins prospect is coming off a season where he drew 110 free passes, the most of any player in the minors. Moreover, he augmented his patient approach with power and speed. In 514 plate appearances split between Low-A Fort Myers and High-A Cedar Rapids, Julien went deep 18 times and swiped 34 bases in 39 tries. His slash line was an OBP-heavy .266/.434/.480.
His English-language skills were on the light side when he began taking classes at Auburn. An International Business major, Julien was regularly referring to a French-English dictionary throughout his first semester. By and large, he learned English as a college freshman.
“Where I’m from, we only speak French,” explained Julien, whose hometown is more than 150 miles (and 250 kilometers) northeast of Montreal. “I knew a little bit of English — we took classes — but it’s like people in the United States who take Spanish classes; they learn, but then they forget because they don’t practice it. I played for [travel ball] teams in Georgia, and for the Junior National team where it’s only English, so I knew some, but I wasn’t very good. I’ll say that.”
Julien now speaks three languages — French, English, and Spanish — and contrary to what was once said about the legendary Moe Berg, he can hit in all of them. That he did so less-impressively than usual in his sophomore season impacted his appeal to MLB scouts. Julien backslid statistically after a stellar freshman year, and as a result fell to the 18th round of the 2019 draft.
The fact that he was draft-eligible is another story.
“Throughout my whole sophomore year, MLB said I wasn’t eligible,” explained Julien, who had graduated high school three years prior. “Then, two weeks before the draft, they decided I was. When I didn’t get drafted until [a later round], I told my school that I was going to come back and play my junior year, but three days before the deadline the Twins offered me an amount of money, and I accepted it.”
Julien is accepting of the idea that he’s sometimes too passive at the plate. Asked about his level of aggressiveness, he cited Joey Votto and Max Muncy as being among his favorite players, adding that he looks at which pitches they typically attack. At the same time, the lefty-swinger admits to sometimes taking pitches he maybe could have hammered. It’s a fine line. Working the count — a big part of his M.O. — often plays to his advantage, but it also contributed to a 28.0% strikeout rate this year. Julien fanned 144 times, a number he’ll be seeking to decrease as he moves forward in his career.
Defense is another area in need of improvement. Julien saw action at first base, second base, third base, and left field, and he was also utilized as a DH. His preference would be to settle into one spot — he feels that second is his best position — but he also understands the value of versatility. Moreover, he knows where his strengths lie.
“I’m open to playing anywhere that I can help the team win,” said Julien. “I want to be in the lineup every day, and my bat is ultimately what is going to carry me up through the levels.”
A competitive downhill skier in his younger years (yes, he also played hockey), Julien is the son of a former fast-pitch softball player who remains upset that the Montreal Expos moved to Washington D.C. following the 2004 season. Both are cautiously optimistic that the province’s largest city will again play host to MLB games, and hopefully in the not-too-distant future. If all goes as planned, Edouard Julien — in a Minnesota Twins uniform or otherwise — could be an active participant in some of them.
RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS
Gates Brown went 0 for 11 against Dick “The Monster” Radatz.
Steve Boros went 1 for 11 against Jim “Mummy” Coates.
Creepy Crespi went 1 for 11 against Boom-Boom Beck.
Jim Thome went 4 for 11 against Danny Graves.
Richie Hebner went 3 for 18 against George Stone.
When A.J. Hinch met with the media on the final day of the regular season, I asked him about something he said in April. Responding to my suggestion that his young team was better than its projections, the Detroit Tigers manager had told me that it wasn’t important to him “what people think we are.”
On May 7, what people thought about the Tigers was anything but positive. The club had staggered to a 9-24 start and was looking every bit a team whose rebuild was going nowhere fast. Then things turned around. From that point forward, they went 68-61, finishing the season a respectable 77-85.
What do people think about Hinch’s team now? Are the Tigers viewed in a more favorable light than they were going into the season?
“I would think so,” Hinch told me on October 3rd. “Number one, the emergence of our young pitching has really earned respect. When you faced us, we were throwing a pretty good starting pitcher at you virtually every day. [They] didn’t always go five, six, or seven innings, but stuff-wise you’d hear managers, coaches, and players [talk] about how our rotation was pretty good. And when you go out and beat teams you’re not supposed to beat — we swept Houston in April; we ended up sweeping the Yankees at home; we split season series with playoff-caliber teams — I think that has to garner a little bit of respect.
“We’re not where we need to be yet,” added Hinch. “But I hope the view is that our arrow is pointing in the right direction… We’re about to have an emergence of some pretty good young talent that hopefully that leads to more wins. We’re not a winning team yet — we’re under .500 — but we are a team that’s making progres. That leads to hope for the future.”
As for that future, count me among those who believe that bringing back Justin Verlander would be a prudent move. The future Hall of Famer is unlikely to return to his once-lofty levels — not with his 39th birthday right around the corner — but there is reason to believe that he can still be a productive pitcher. Moreover, he’d be both a gate-attraction and a fantastic mentor to the likes of Matt Manning, Casey Mize, and Tarik Skubal. Returning to full health as he recovers from October 2020 Tommy John surgery, Verlander — a free agent at the conclusion of the World Series — profiles as a perfect fit for Hinch’s Tigers.
Whitey Ford’s 10 World Series wins are the most for any pitcher. Which non-New York Yankees pitcher has the most World Series wins?
The answer can be found below.
Jamie Romak announced yesterday that he is retiring after 19 professional seasons. A native of London, Ontario who was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in 2003, Romak had brief big-league stints with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014, and the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015. Romak’s last five seasons have been spent in the KBO, most recently with SSG Landers. (Per Jeeho Yoo.)
Ed Sedar announced on Monday that he’s retiring after 30 years with the Milwaukee Brewers organization. Originally employed down on the farm, the 60-year-old Sedar was a base coach at the big-league level from 2007-2020.
As reported by USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the 2021 Scout of the Year honorees are: Jeff Brookens (Cincinnati Reds), Ralph Garr (Atlanta Braves), Jesse Flores (Pittsburgh Pirates), and Louie Eljaua (Chicago Cubs).
Tyler Herron, a first-round supplemental pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2005 draft, died recently (an exact date is unclear) at age 35. A member of Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Herron pitched professionally for multiple organizations. No cause of death has been reported.
The answer to the quiz is Bob Gibson. The Hall of Fame right-hander was credited with seven World Series wins, all with the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Yankees’ Wildcard ouster was followed by a plethora of claims that the organization has been over-reliant on analytics. Much the same happened when the Rays were eliminated in the ALDS. Ditto the Dodgers in the NLCS, and there’s a pretty decent chance that opinion will proffered once again if the Astros are vanquished in the World Series.
Do claims of that nature have validity? Generally speaking, is it possible for a team to be over-reliant on analytics? I posed that question to Pittsburgh Pirates GM Ben Cherington earlier this week.
“It seems like the best use of information is always something that we should explore, and teams are going to want to continue to explore,” responded Cherington. “Then, ultimately, it’s all about the end-user of that information. Right? It’s the player… who has to go out and do things on the field to win games. Information can be incredibly valuable to help a player improve a skill, or prepare in some way, or to be deployed in optimal ways during a game.
“I guess the idea of being over-reliant on analytics wouldn’t really resonate with me,” continued Cherington. “Certainly, I think we have to keep in mind who the end-user is — a human being on the field trying to do something extraordinary — and we ought to keep that in focus.”
ARIZONA FALL LEAGUE STANDOUTS
Jeter Downs is co-leading the Arizona Fall League with five home runs. The 23-year-old Red Sox middle infield prospect has nine hits in 31 at bats and has drawn 11 walks for the Scottsdale Scorpions.
St. Louis Cardinals rookie Lars Nootbaar has five home runs for the Glendale Desert Dogs. The 24-year-old outfielder hit for the cycle on Friday, and has 15 hits in 44 at bats.
Joey Wiemer is 14-for-30 with the Salt River Rafters. The 22-year-old Milwaukee Brewers outfield prospect has three doubles and has gone deep once.
Nathan Eaton is 18-for-41 with the Surprise Saguaros. The 24-year-old Kansas City Royals infield/outfield prospect has five doubles and three stolen bases in as many attempts.
Michael Siani is 11-for-33 with the Saguaros. The 22-year-old Cincinnati Reds outfield prospect — featured here at FanGraphs last spring — has stolen an AZL-best 10 bases, and has been caught just once.
The nominees for the 2022 BBWAA Career Excellence Award (formerly the J. G. Taylor Spink Award) are Tim Kurkjian, Marty Noble, and Allan Simpson. The winner will be announced in December, and the award presented at next summer’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
My vote will go to Simpson, who founded Baseball America in 1981 and went on to lead the publication for more than two decades. Initially published in Simpson’s hometown of Kelowna, British Columbia, and located in Durham, North Carolina since 1983, Baseball America has had a nearly-incalculable impact on the game thanks to its coverage of prospects and MLB’s amateur draft. With all due respect to Kurkjian and Noble, Simpson is the most deserving of this honor.
The Orix Buffaloes won the franchise’s first NPB Pacific League pennant in 25 years. Ichiro Suzuki led the then-named Orix BlueWave to the title in 1996.
The Seibu Lions finished the NPB season in last place for the first time since 1972. Seibu went 55-70 with 18 ties.
Four players tied for the Pacific League’s stolen-base title, with 24 apiece. Among them was Koshiro Wada, a 22-year-old outfielder for the Chiba Lotte Marines. Used almost exclusively as a pinch runner, Wada appeared in 96 games but logged only 24 plate appearances. He had five hits and drew five walks.
The KT Wiz and Samsung Lions went into today (last night in U.S. time zones) tied atop the KBO standings with identical 76-59-9 records. They met to determine which of the two will receive a bye all the way into the Korean Series, with KT Wiz coming out on top with a 1-0 win. An explanation of the five-team playoff structure can be found here.
Preston Tucker, the older brother of Houston Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker, goes into the final day of NPB’s regular season slashing .237/.334/.350 with the Kia Tigers. Tucker has nine home runs in 539 plate appearances, and an 89 wRC+.
Kris Bubic was the featured guest on this week’s episode of FanGraphs Audio. Here are two snippets from the 20-minute conversation with the Kansas City Royals left-hander.
“I’m pretty much tuning into those, and those only,” Bubic said of ESPN’s Statcast broadcasts, which feature Jason Benetti, Eduardo Perez, and Mike Petriello. “The last few years I’ve kind of had a passion for the analytics side of the game, and just better-understanding numbers, better-understanding all of that. I think [being a broadcast analyst] is definitely something I could see myself doing at the end of my career — or maybe bringing that to a team, working in the front office.”
“They’re both changeups, but they’re two completely different changeups,” the Stanford-education southpaw said when asked to compare his signature pitch to that of teammate Jackson Kowar. “You were talking about Devin Williams, and I’d say his is pretty similar to that in terms of it being a higher-spin changeup. He spins it more than he spins his fastball. His axis is pretty much purely sidespin… If you were to watch an Edgertronic video of it, he’s really turning that thing over and getting pure sidespin, as opposed to how I’m staying behind it a little bit more and really just killing spin.”
LINKS YOU’LL LIKE
At The Undefeated, Clinton Yates wrote about how Rob Manfred missed the mark with his comments on the “Braves” moniker, and the Tomahawk chop that goes with it.
At The New York Times, James Wagner wrote about Ronald Acuña Jr.’s disappointment in not being able to play in the postseason due to injury.
Lookout Landing’s Kate Preusser pondered the possibility of Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras being a trade target for the Seattle Mariners.
The SABR Baseball Cards blog presented us with an All-Funky 1970s All-Star Team that was compiled by author Daniel Epstein (“Big Hair and Plastic Grass,” “Stars and Strikes,” and “The Captain and Me.”)
What happened to the baseball that Bill Mazeroski hit over the left field fence at Forbes Field to win the 1960 World Series for the Pittsburgh Pirates? Matt Monagan has the answer (sort of) at MLB.com.
RANDOM FACTS AND STATS
Juan Guzman won 41 of his first 52 big-league decisions, all with the Toronto Blue Jays. Guzman proceeded to go 50-68 over the remainder of his career.
Rob Murphy went 6-0 with one save and a 0.72 ERA in his 1986 rookie season with the Cincinnati Reds. The southpaw, who received nary a vote in N.L. Rookie of the Year voting, appeared in 34 games and allowed 26 hits in 50-and-a-third innings.
Bob Melvin had three hits and one walk in eight postseason plate appearances. Casey Stengel had 11 hits and four walks in 33 postseason plate appearances.
Jack Billingham pitched for the Cincinnati Reds in the 1972, 1975, and 1976 World Series and allowed one earned run in 25-and-a-third innings. Billingham’s 0.36 ERA is second-lowest in Fall Classic history, bested only by Madison Bumgarner’s 0.25 (one earned run in 36 innings).
Mickey Mantle homered in both Game 6 and Game 7 of the 1952 World Series. He also homered in Game 6 and Game 7 in 1964. Mantle’s 18 round trippers are the most in World Series history.
Babe Ruth went 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA (three earned runs in 31 innings) in three World Series starts. Ruth threw a 14-inning complete game when the Boston Red Sox beat the Brooklyn Robbins 2-1 in Game 2 of the 1916 World Series.
Players born on today’s date include Dee Fondy, a first baseman for three teams — primarily the Chicago Cubs — from 1951-1958. A left-handed hitter who recorded exactly 1,000 big-league hits, Fondy went on to become the scouting director, and later a special assistant to the GM, for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Also born on today’s date was Allyn Stout, who logged a record of 20-20 while pitching for four teams from 1931-1943. A right-hander who went 6-0 in his rookie season with the 1931 World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals, Stout was nicknamed “Fish Hook.”
Christy Mathewson threw 27 scoreless innings over a six-day stretch as the New York Giants beat the Philadelphia Athletics four-games-to-one in the 1905 World Series.
Ossee Schrecongost played for the Central Pennsylvania Leagues’s Williamsport Demorest Bicycle Boys in 1896 and 1897. He went on to catch Hall of Famers Charlie Bender, Eddie Plank, and Rube Waddell with the Philadelphia Athletics from 1902-1908.
David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.
From Clinton Yates’s sarcastic reference to potentially calling the Braves the Cobb County Crackers, it doesn’t look like he knows that Atlanta’s minor league franchise was named the Atlanta Crackers until the Braves came.
And their Negro League franchise was the Atlanta Black Crackers.