Houston Astros rookie Corey Julks is off to a strong start. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros Jake Meyers and Corey Julks are Minor League buddies who are making a Major League impact together. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros rookie Corey Julks knows he needs to be aggressive. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros outfielder Jake Meyers knows every at-bat counts for him. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
George Springer could only turn and watch Jake Meyers home run go into the Minute Maid Park stands. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros first baseman Jose Abreu has a track record of big home runs. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
The Blue Jays have plenty of star power with Vladimir Guerrero Jr.a as fearsome as any hitter in baseball. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros pitcher Cristian Javier has proven his postseason power. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Kevin Gausman found the Astros' lineup still has bite. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Mauricio Dubon is getting plenty of love from the Minute Maid Park crowds — and making the most of his opportunity. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros first baseman Jose Abreu brings a lot of personality with his bat. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
George Springer is still looking for big playoff success with the Blue Jays. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Mauricio Dubon is swinging a hot bat for the Astros. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Jake Meyers and Corey Julks know they have to grab every opportunity they get with the Houston Astros. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros pitcher Cristian Javier can be a dominant arm. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker is a baseball lifer who's seen it all. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros second baseman Mauricio Dubon can hit too. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros pitcher Cristian Javier is an intimidating force, even though he's not very big in stature. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Houston Astros rookie Corey Julks is making an early impact. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Cristian Javier is usually one of the hardest pitchers to hit in all of baseball. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Astros manager Dusty Baker and veteran catcher Martin Maldonado are two of the biggest voices on this team. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Astros starter Cristian Javier can rack up strikeouts even when he doesn't have his best stuff. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)
Corey Julks almost looks like he could be headed to a resort. His colorful shirt is open in the front — and the Houston Astros rookie describes his reaction to seeing his second Major League home run fly out of Minute Maid Park as “I was like ‘Alright, cool.’ ”
But don’t let Julks’ postgame attire or his comments fool you. This University of Houston product is pouncing on every chance he gets. With a purpose. It took Corey Julks a long time to get to The Show. Sometimes it felt like forever. And now that he is finally here, he’s attacking almost every at-bat with an aggressiveness that Logan Roy would appreciate.
“Just his attention to detail,” Astros outfielder Jake Meyers says on the key to Julks’ early Major League success. “He shows up every day, works hard. He just wants to be great.
“I think that spills off to everyone and everybody wants to feed off that. I think that’s what’s special about him.”
Julks is making a strong case that he’s special enough to belong on the Astros even after Michael Brantley returns from injury and the roster picture inevitably gets more crowded this summer. Julks is proving he’s much more than just a good story — a UH guy drafted in the eighth round way back in 2017 who went through six seasons in the Minors to get here. He’s a good hitter.
Julks absolutely smokes two extra base hits in the Astros’ much-needed 9-2 romp over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night. He combines with Meyers, his former Minor League teammate and buddy, for five RBI in Houston’s seven run first inning. Now Corey Julks is hitting .310 with two home runs and three doubles in 42 at bats.
And he’s doing it by not waiting for something to happen. This 27-year-old rookie goes up the plate ready to swing The home run he hits comes on the first pitch from Kevin Gausman. Julks jumps on that pitch and sends it soaring over Minute Maid Park’s deep center field wall.
It travels four hundred and 24 feet. At a 107.2 MPH exit velocity. His double in the top of the first clocks a 109.6 MPH exit velocity, another fastball scorched. When you’re trying to make a team that left you unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft take notice, you’d better swing loud. Jumping on every chance is a necessity for Corey Julks. Luckily, it fits his personality too.
“Very,” Julks says when I ask how important aggressiveness is to his start. “Once you get deeper in the counts, it gets tough. So you want to get ’em early. Tee something up to elevate. And let it eat.”
Julks is certainly doing plenty of chomping, rewarding Astros manager Dusty Baker’s faith in his swing. Julks’ Minor League teammates were drawn to him, often seeing something big in this underdog that the prospect raters missed.
The UH guy now has two home runs in his last three starts. Julks hit 31 dingers in 130 games with Sugar Land last season. His power looks like anything like a fluke.
“Typically once you start hitting them, they start coming a little more frequently,” Julks says.
“Once you get deeper in the counts, it gets tough. So you want to get ’em early. Tee something up to elevate. And let it eat.” — UH rookie Corey Julks
With lifeline tone setter Jose Altuve expected to be out for another five or six weeks (if the original two month timeline holds), these Astros need some offense creators. Corey Julks looks like one.
Jose Abreu’s unassailable track record screams he’s another. And on this night, Abreu knocks a pitch off the padded center field wall, right by the 409 numbers, driving in the first two runs of the game. Julks doubles off the out-of-town scoreboard in left to drive in two more. No. 8 hitter Jake Meyers sends a three run home run screaming into the right field stands.
Before Gausman and the Blue Jays even realize what’s hit them, it’s 7-0 Astros. In the first inning. The monster inning is a demonstration of what this Astros lineup — even one without Altuve — can do when it puts things together. Yes, the inning includes three extra base hits. But it also sees Yordan Alvarez and Kyle Tucker, the team’s two best hitters, draw walks. And everyone’s favorite shortstop celebrity Jeremy Peña successfully argue for a catcher’s interference call that puts him on base.
Just keep the line moving. And somebody — often several somebodies — will do damage. This is the Astros way. Has been since the early days of George Springer.
That Usual Corey Julks
Springer is in his third season with the Blue Jays now, still looking for the kind of playoff success he enjoyed in Houston. Toronto seemingly even arguably boasts a more dangerous lineup than the Astros with Springer, Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and a newly revitalized toe-tapping Matt Chapman.
But individual stars don’t always add up to an elite team. All these years later, these Blue Jays are still trying to prove themselves.
The Astros still aren’t exactly flying at 8-9 after 17 games this season, but the championship DNA hasn’t faded away. Dusty Baker still has a A1 ace in Framber Valdez, a rising star second ace in Cristian Javier and maybe a future ace in Hunter Brown. He also has whatever Corey Julks is turning himself into as a first-time Big Leaguer at age 26.
“That’s their job,” Baker says of Julks and Meyers. “That’s their job to play when called upon.”
Julks knows he must jump on any chance. He has two Big League home runs now, but there is no time for reflection. He hasn’t even found time to do anything with the baseball from his first Major League dinger.
“It’s in the house,” Julks says when someone asks where that baseball is. “Don’t have like a display yet, but we’re working on it.”
There will be time for arranging Major League mementos later. Corey Julks needs to jump to get things done now.
“Just Usual Corey,” Meyers says with a grin when asked about Julks.