At TinCaps games, you might not notice hitting coach Doug Banks standing in the dugout, but the impact Banks has on the team can be seen on the field. The TinCaps offense has soared as the season has progressed with players buying into the lessons that Banks once learned himself and now is passing along to his players.
Banks started his post-playing career at 22-years-old after collegiate baseball stints at the University of Arizona and at Abilene Christian University (ACU) in Abilene, Texas. As a Dallas native, the move to ACU was a move back home and was followed by a post-collegiate position in the Texas Rangers organization.
With the Rangers from 2008-11, Banks had various roles. He was with the team for trips to the World Series in 2010 and 2011, working with All-Stars like Adrian Beltre, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, and Vladimir Guerrero.
"I did a lot with the big league team," Banks said. "I was assistant to the hitting coach and then got into the amateur scouting side in the Southwest United States."
Scouting isn't the glorious lifestyle some people may think it is.
"It was a long day," Banks recalled. "There were multiple games each day during the spring. I would see a junior college game early in the morning with batting practice, infield and outfield, and then watch the game. Most of the time in junior college there's a doubleheader, so I'd watch both games."
And that was just the beginning of the day.
"Then I would go check out a local high school game. Then you could go to Arizona State or the University of Arizona and watch them at night. So you could get up to three or four games in one day in the spring."
When scouting an area as large as the Southwest part of the country, one of the hardest parts becomes covering all of the real estate.
"There was a lot of driving and evaluating players from one state to another," said Banks. "The area that I was in was very large and spread out: Utah, Colorado, Las Vegas, El Paso, New Mexico, Arizona. So there weren't a lot of players, but there was a lot of travel time and trying to find the next player that you hope to get into your organization."
Banks even joked, "My first year I was like, 'I should've been a pilot and this would've been a lot better'"
Every scout has a different way of evaluating talent, but all scouts are generally searching for the same thing.
"You're just looking for talent that can hopefully help at the big league level and help the team win at some point," according to Banks. "Just trying to find any type of tools that stand out that are plus-tools that you think can contribute to the organization."
Banks made the transition from the Rangers to the San Diego Padres before last season. In 2016, Banks had a dual role as a coach and a scout, once again covering the Southwest.
After spending a year as the hitting coach for the Rookie-Level Arizona League Padres and as a scout, Banks is in his first season as the hitting coach in Fort Wayne. With the move to the Midwest, Banks is only coaching, not scouting.
"Coaching was something that I really wanted to get back to doing full time," Banks said.
As with most things, there's plenty to learn from the people you work around. Banks said he learned a lot from his time with Texas and hopes to be able to pass that knowledge on to the players he coaches.
"I had the opportunity to work with a lot of great mentors and baseball players and learn from them," said Banks. "Each day I try to teach the players what I've learned. I had the privilege of being with a big league team, and now I just teach these guys that there's no secret to success. It's just the ability to show up and be consistent with your work."
The biggest lesson Banks learned is one he preaches to his players all the time.
"Work wins," Banks said. "That's the biggest thing that you saw with those guys [with the Rangers]. There's no secret sauce to what those guys did to become that good. They didn't just wake up one day and all of a sudden think their talent was just going to get them to the World Series. Their preparation, their daily routine, their competitiveness, their ownership, their discipline with their routine. Those are all things that I'm just trying to instill on these young players, so that as they continue their career, they have that winning trait with their work ethic."
Going from scouting to coaching also gives Banks an interesting perspective in that there are players he scouted and/or signed that he has coached. One of those players is catcher Marcus Greene Jr.
"The first time I saw him was in a fall workout in Albuquerque, New Mexico," Banks said. "I was sitting in the first base dugout, and I was watching him take batting practice when he was a freshman at New Mexico Junior College. He sparked my interest in terms of his athleticism - he also played outfield there."
Later on, Banks went to New Mexico Junior College's first game of the season and was sold on what he saw from Greene. The Rangers drafted the Pomona, Calif., native in the 16th round in 2013. Banks was the one who signed Greene, and now the two are working together this year as coach and player thanks to a trade that brought Greene to the Padres from the Rangers.
Greene is having one of the best seasons of his professional career offensively. As with every player Banks coaches, seeing a player succeed is fulfilling for the coach too.
"The reward is great when you get to see these guys have success," Banks said. "I really enjoy seeing these guys have success. Everyone on this team is putting in the hard work that they're continuing to strive for each day. It's starting to show up for some of them on the field. The more success they have, it's really rewarding. It's really fun to watch these guys have fun."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.