Jim Bowden Tags Two Minnesota Twins for His 2024 All-MLB Breakout Team

royce lewis Minnesota Twins
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Some Minnesota Twins fans may be a bit disappointed with how team president Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine have handled the offseason. There wasn’t a single starting pitcher added in free agency, and the one they did trade for, Anthony DeSclafani, is now dealing with an injury to his pitching arm that could end his season before it starts.

It doesn’t help that the payroll has shrunk by roughly $40 million from last year’s team that lost in the ALDS. However, not all is bad in Twins Territory. There are plenty of stars ready to improve upon last season’s effort (Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton) and several young players eager to enjoy a breakout season. But don’t take it from this Minnesota homer.

Jim Bowden crowns two Minnesota Twins as top MLB breakout candidates

The reason this article is being written is to share former MLB GM Jim Bowden‘s take on our favorite nine. Bowden, now with The Athletic, was recently tasked with creating an “All-Breakout Team” for the 2024 season.

The easy way out of this assignment would have been for Bowden to fill his list with rising Dodgers, Orioles, or Yankees prospects. There are plenty of them. But he didn’t. Instead, two Twins players were chosen, among many others. Here is Jim’s thought process when picking his team.

“Every spring I write an article on breakout candidates but this year I took it a step further and created a 26-man roster of the players I think are most likely to have “breakout” seasons. My definition for a breakout candidate is simply a player I expect to perform at a significantly higher level than their major-league track record, or to burst onto the scene and blow away the rookie field. Breakout players share common traits including the ability to adjust and adapt, a high baseball IQ, and tremendous physical and mental skills. In addition, it’s usually a player 26 years old or younger.”

Former MLB GM Jim Bowden on his 2024 All-MLB Breakout Team

Jim Bowden’s MLB Breakout 2nd Baseman: Edouard Julien

MLB: Spring Training-Boston Red Sox at Minnesota Twins
Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Bowden did not rank these players in any type of order. Instead, he simply chose his best picks for each position while building the roster. When it came to his starting second baseman, Bowden chose Edouard Julien, who made his MLB debut last season.

“Julien had a solid rookie year, slashing .263/.381/.459 with 16 doubles, 16 home runs and 37 RBIs as he just scratched the surface of his potential. Exhibit A is his plate discipline, which ranks in the Juan Soto sphere. Julien was in the 100th percentile in chase rate and in the 98th percentile in walk percentage, and when you combine that with being in the 91st percentile in sweet-spot percentage and in the 86th percentile in barrel percentage, you have a future .400 OBP player with 20-25 home run power who could even win a batting title someday. Defensively, he has a lot of work to do; DH is probably his best position.”

Jim Bowden on Edouard Julien (The Athletic)

Julien impressed in a major way last season, establishing himself as a hitter who became too good for Rocco Baldelli to send back down to the minor leagues. Now, he could be on the verge of, as Bowden said, having an even bigger breakout season.

Related: Confirmed: Twins’ Top Prospect Walker Jenkins is Gonna be a Superstar

Any Twins fan with a functional memory can provide a plethora of former top prospects who thrived early on, only to struggle later. Miguel Sano is the most extreme example. Jose Miranda and Randy Dobnak are two more easy ones. But the hope (and belief) is Julien’s elite plate vision and sweet lefty stroke can ease our concerns early on.

Jim Bowden’s MLB Breakout 3rd Baseman: Royce Lewis (Dark Horse MVP)

MLB: ALDS-Houston Astros at Minnesota Twins
Credit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

But it’s not just Eddie who the longtime MLB scribe is bullish on. The other is much more obvious. Twins third baseman Royce Lewis. Like I said, who isn’t bullish on what Lewis is about to unleash on Major League Baseball in 2024, provided he remains healthy for the bulk of the season?

I have Lewis as a dark horse MVP candidate this year, if he can stay healthy, something he hasn’t been able to do since he was the first overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. However, last year in the regular season and postseason, he showed his 1-1 pedigree. In the regular season, he slashed .309/.372/.548 with 15 home runs and 52 RBIs in just 239 plate appearances, along with tallying six steals in seven attempts. In the postseason, he reached base at a .346 clip and hit four home runs in six games over two series. If he’s healthy for a full season, Lewis will be not only the Twins’ best player, but also one of the best players in the league.

Jim Bowden on Royce Lewis (The Athletic)

Related: All Royce Lewis Does is Hit Grand Slams… Even in Spring Training

Preach! If Lewis can stay healthy, he can certainly not only be the best player on the Twins’ roster but also, as Bowden mentioned, a possible MVP candidate. If that happens, it’s hard to imagine the Twins ending up anywhere but the playoffs.

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