Top prospect Julien does 'fantastic job' in MLB debut

April 12th, 2023

MINNEAPOLIS -- Even though 's call to the big leagues came mid-game, Triple-A manager Toby Gardenhire still found a way to make it special.

Julien's skipper called him over in the dugout and asked him to give a mid-game scouting report on the pitcher the Saints were facing Tuesday. After the second baseman dutifully provided his teammates with the information they'd need, Gardenhire told him he had missed something:

Julien, the No. 96 prospect in baseball and ranked No. 4 in the Twins organization per MLB Pipeline, was being called up to the Majors. The 23-year-old Canadian, who hails from Quebec City, was a corresponding roster move after  was placed on the injured list.

“It was kind of a surreal moment because it happens one time in your life. I didn't know how to act,” Julien said Wednesday before making his MLB debut during the Twins' 3-1 win against the White Sox at Target Field. “... Everybody started screaming and throwing water. It was a great moment.”

Known for his plate discipline, keen eye and hitting ability, Julien was in the starting lineup for Minnesota, playing second base and hitting eighth. He finished 0-for-2 with a walk in three at-bats before he was taken out for a defensive replacement.

“He did a fantastic job,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He had good at-bats. He went out there and made a handful of plays in the field. The at-bats are consistently good with him, and we anticipate him going out there and just doing what he naturally does, nothing more, nothing less, and we think he can really help us.”

Julien caught an early-morning flight from Indianapolis, where the Saints were playing, to Minnesota. His parents, sister and two high school coaches were in the Target Field crowd on Wednesday.

“It's crazy just to see the big locker room here, and I was just trying to find my name and number,” Julien said. “I see '47 Julien', it was a cool moment, for sure.”

The number is significant in Minnesota, if not for Julien. It was the number worn by countryman Corey Koskie during his time with the Twins. Julien became the 11th Canadian to play for Minnesota.

And just like Koskie, Julien can hit.

Julien hit .300 with 17 homers in 113 games for Double-A Wichita last season. His hitting ability vaulted the one-time 18th-round Draft pick from Auburn into MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 as he led all Minor Leaguers with at least 1,000 plate appearances in walks and on-base percentage across the past two seasons.

“His bat might have been ready for the majors a little while ago,” Baldelli said. “It very well could have been. For other reasons, you’re not going to sometimes go to a guy if he has other things that he has to spend time on and work on. But for a young player, for a Minor League player that doesn’t have experience here, he’s probably got about as good of a bat as you’re going to see.”

Julien’s exposure took a big jump in the offseason when he was named the breakout player in the Arizona Fall League and then hit .538 with two homers for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. He led the tournament with a 1.821 OPS.

“It helps a lot,” Julien said of his WBC experience. “Just being able to play in a big atmosphere, the WBC, to represent your country and play against USA and Mexico and face all these big league pitchers and players, play in a big stadium and play in front of fans, it gets you ready for the big leagues, I think.

"I'm excited for the opportunity I got, and I've been dreaming my whole life to be here in the Major Leagues. ... I'm just going to try to cherish every moment and have fun on the field.”