Nationals minor league hitting instructor Troy Gingrich had more positive news on outfielder Nick Banks, who garnered a lot of attention last summer with his game-winning three-run homer in the Carolina League All-Star Classic in Frederick, Md.
Banks, 25, is rated as the No. 27 prospect in the MLBPipeline.com Nats top 30.
Gingrich said the left-handed hitting Banks made a big jump in his swing and plate discipline in 2019. His numbers improved as the season got going. He slashed .278/.338/.431 with 33 doubles, two homers and 59 RBIs over 114 games.
"Nick was down here, we got to see him a lot," Gingrich said. "Probably in the last year, Nick has made some of the biggest strides with some of the kids that we have had. It's taken him a little bit longer. He had a lot of things where he wasn't able to catch up the velocity. He had some length in his swing. He would get too much separation back with his hands, so it would take him longer to get the barrel into the zone. He also didn't really know how to fully understand how to use his legs in his swing. In the last, probably, eight, nine months he has made strides. He has shortened everything down. There is not that reach anymore. He is much more connected."
Banks demonstrated his power stroke again, hitting 10 homers in back-to-back seasons. He hit better at Double-A Harrisburg (.288) than he did at high Single-A Potomac (.271). The Texas A&M product was awarded with an invitation to play for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .250 with a .759 OPS, crushing three homers and eight RBIs over 16 games.
Gingrich said Banks' ability to swing the bat well against the best pitching prospects in the AFL showed again that the kid has a bright future and has made some nice adjustments.
"He has always had the ability to hit the ball very well to center and left center," Gingrich said. "He has learned by being shorter he can catch those balls now that are pitches middle in. He can now pull those balls and hit those balls with correct, true and nice backspin, where before they were topspinning because of how much more weight he would get on his front side.
"He is now able to keep more of his weight on his back side with a shorter path to get to the ball. He's working on it and continuing to get better and better. He had made improvement on this at the fall league."
Banks' next stop is likely Harrisburg, with solid potential for a spot at Triple-A Fresno.
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