In part one of our visit with Nick Banks, an outfielder in the Nationals system, we spoke about his experience in the Arizona Fall League. A valuable part of that experience is meshing with and learning from new coaches. In part two, we look into what Ken Joyce, a hitting coach from the New York Yankees organization, was able to do to help Banks with his swing and his approach at the plate.
“I loved him. He really did help me a lot this offseason and in the fall league,” Banks said. “Just helping me get some feeling on some things. Really, what it feels like to getting my back hip. I had an understanding of it, but there are some things that I needed ... just some cues that made a little bit more sense to me. We really worked on that a lot. It really did get me into a better position. Even better than what I was in during the season. Just little cues to help me lock in.”
The lefty-hitting Banks said that the swing base he wanted to establish begins with his left hip. Joyce worked on that movement through the zone.
“It’s just like when I get into my loading process, controlling that back hip,” Banks said. “It’s really helped me to get to that 50-50 position other than me lunging forward or getting too far back and then coming all the way back forward. It’s really, for me, just controlling it and controlling my loading process.”
The AFL title game took place Oct. 26, during the same week when the Nats were battling for a World Series title. Even though Banks’ team, the Surprise Saguaros, were in the final week and then in title game of their own, he got to see some of the Fall Classic and root for the big club.
“We got lucky,” Banks said. “We had an off day one day and then we had an early game, I think Game 1. So, we saw them win Game 1. We caught, like, the ends of some games. But I was home for Game 7, so that was pretty cool. I got to stay up and watch that. See the celebration. See some of the guys that I played with this year up there. It was pretty cool. Got the chills. I was just really happy for them and happy for our organization.”
“Tres I played with since I was 11 years old,” Banks said. “It’s pretty crazy. There’s never a doubt in my mind that he wouldn’t be a big leaguer. Everyone that’s ever been around Tres knows that he had what it took to be big leaguer.
“I got real close to Michael Taylor this year in Harrisburg, and just seeing his role. He could have been pissed off or whatnot, but he went through the adversity the right way and he played a big role that playoff run with (Victor) Robles going down for a little bit. He came up with some key hits. Stuff like that you can’t really take for granted. It’s awesome to see what they did.”
A lot of the Double-A Senators have talked about Taylor’s influence on them while he was with Harrisburg for two months. Banks said Taylor was an extremely valuable mentor to him as an outfielder looking to get to the show. Taylor took the same path that Banks is on now to get to D.C.
“He definitely was,” Banks said. “Obviously, he’s been in the big leagues. He’s got a lot of time in the bigs. With him being an outfielder, he would just say things about what we should do in that situation, what his viewpoint was, baserunning things. But just him as a person, he’s very humble, easy to get along with. Having guys like that that have that much service time ... he was the same guy every single day. I respected that about him.”
So with a shortened offseason, Banks is already in the middle of preparing for 2020 spring training. He has a couple of factors in his approach at the plate he wants to focus on as February gets closer.
“The only thing I feel like I’m going to be doing differently this year is keying in on my plate discipline when I start getting the ball rolling with hitting,” Banks said. “I like my foundation, where I’m at right now. I don’t really think I need to make too many swing adjustments or anything. My workout program is going to stay the same, keying in on overall flexibility in my hips. Plate discipline, I think, is the next thing I really need to improve to make that next jump to a next level. I know I need try and be as perfect as I can with that in routines and everything.”