Prep Baseball Report

Scout Blog - Federal Way at Eastside Catholic

Dan Jurik
Scouting Director - Pacific Northwest

Sammamish, WA – Plenty of talent was on display Tuesday night as Federal Way faced off against Eastside Catholic under the lights at 7 PM. The chilly, foggy and wet conditions didn’t stop fans or scouts from gathering to see an enticing match-up that featured several Division 1 commits, highlighted by 2019 OF Josh Mears. More on him later.

With both teams starting D-1 bound arms, the offenses came out aggressive and took hacks early. Quality velocity and stuff was on display from the get-go as 2019 RHP Will Armbruester and 2020 RHP Tyler Hoeft toed the rubber.

But amid the buzz surrounding the big-time bats and powerful arms, it was an uncommitted senior who ended up making the loudest impression. 

Federal Way

This was the first look we had at Josh Mears since this past summer at Area Codes. Right out of the gate, his physicality and developed frame stand out. Sporting a big-league body at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, Mears moves well for his size. Carries himself with smooth, easy strides in the OF. Profiles nicely to RF due to his above average arm strength. The throwing action is smooth, clean and produces consistent carry. Offensively, he reaffirmed that the raw power is legitimate. Flashed premium bat speed as he lined a hard 1B up the middle on the first pitch he saw. After an intentional walk in his 2nd AB, Mears had the chance to see some strikes when he came up again in the 5th, as Eastside Catholic had created a sizeable lead by then. In the box, he sets up with a narrow, upright stance with some bend in his knees. Hands maintain steady rhythm prior to his forward stride. Very subtle load/stretch with the hands. Bat explodes thru the zone with a controlled, explosive swing. The contact you hear when he barrels one up is just different. Saw a steady amount of off-speed pitches in his last AB before eventually grounding out to 3rd. Finished the day 1-2 with a 1B and BB. It’ll be exciting to see how Mears looks in a few weeks after getting the chance to see more in-game pitching, but the next level tools are very apparent.


Mears isn’t the only impressive bat in the Federal Way line-up though. Fellow 2019 Brandham Ponce (Central Arizona College commit / NJCAA D1) has great size and actions that play well in the INF. 6-foot-2, 205 pounds with a frame that can handle additional strength/weight. Light on his feet with balanced movement throughout the fielding process. Short, compact arm action. Capable of adjusting release point as needed. Hits with an aggressive approach in the box. Looks to do damage early and doesn’t get cheated. Might be susceptible to chasing spin at times but he’ll always be ready for a FB if he gets it. Wide set up in the box. Takes a subtle, controlled leg lift to gather weight and get into forward move. Swing shows easy bat speed with lift after contact. Hitting directly after Ponce was uncommitted 2020 INF Abiel Gonzalez. Proportional build at 5-foot-10, 175 pounds with some present strength in his frame. Controlled and fluid defensive actions in the infield. Loose, whippy arm action with average strength. Demonstrated solid control of his glove hand while moving laterally in I/O. Quick hands when exchanging on turns. Hits from the left side with a relaxed, upright stance. Loads with a subtle forward stride as hands pull back into strong hitting position near back shoulder. Finishes with full hip rotation in his lower half. Barrel stays level thru the zone and should lead to gap-to-gap type power. Finally, keep an eye on 2020 OF Alex Bradshaw. 5-foot-8, 170 pounds with an average build on his frame. Flashed good bat speed in game while hitting from a wide, even stance. Maintains balance and quiet head while taking aggressive hacks. Barrel gets in the zone early and should allow him to spray hard contact to all fields. 

On the bump for Federal Way was 2020 RHP and Washington commit Tyler Hoeft. 5-foot-10, 175 pounds with a proportionally built frame. Featured an easy, low effort delivery with repeatable throwing actions. Maintains consistent tempo as he works down the slope and gets into landing. Stays on the ball thru release and shows quality extension as he finishes. Low ¾ slot. FB was consistently 86-88 throughout his 3 innings of work, topping at 89. Breaking ball showed tight 10/4 shape at times while working in the 72-74 range. Repeats FB release point on the offering and does a good job minimizing any hump as it gets out of hand. Both pitchers struggled with spin early on while dealing with the conditions. After a tough 1st, Hoeft settled in and put up zeroes over the next 2 innings before his night was done. Although he didn’t have his best stuff on this look, the overall composure and poise he demonstrated was impressive. Didn’t get rattled or disheveled while facing a tough Eastside Catholic line-up. The arm talent and demeanor are there and better days are certainly ahead.

Eastside Catholic

On the other side of the diamond, Eastside Catholic turned to 2019 RHP Will Armbruester. Committed to the University of New Mexico, Armbruester is sporting a leaner and more athletic looking frame compared to our last look at him back in early summer. Physical presence on the hill at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds. Does an efficient job getting extension out in front of his lengthy lower half. Keeps the ball in the bottom 3rd of the zone from ¾ release point. Smooth, low effort delivery should allow him to stick as a starter moving forward. Stays tall throughout delivery and maintains a level shoulder plane as he gets into his landing. Balanced finish with eyes on target. FB ranged from 86-89 and peaked at 90. Showed willingness to work to both sides of the plate. Tough to gauge movement or life on the offering based on lack of visibility behind the plate for spectators. Breaking ball had tight shape to it at 74-76. Generated a ton of swing and misses on it later in the game as it started to tunnel better with his FB the more he went to it. Much closer to a slider type offering on this look. Overall, pitched with a confident demeanor and looks poised to have a big year.


Uncommitted 2019 LHP/OF Conner Niemann came on in relief or Armbruester and didn’t allow a hit while recording 4 outs and punching out 2. 5-foot-11, 170 pounds with an athletic frame and some strength in his build. Pitched from the stretch with consistent direction towards his target. Arm action shows full extension before shortening up and getting more compact into high ¾ release. FB topped at 81 and was mostly 77-80. CB showed 2/7 shape at 70-71. As with all other arms on this night, top end stuff was tough to tap into while battling with a cold, slick baseball. Also a capable hitter as who has potential as a 2-way prospect. Shows a balanced, controlled swing from the left-side with a feel for the barrel.

2019 SS and Oregon commit Zachary Sanidad was an exciting player to see for the first time. Above average runner at 5-foot-7, 160 pounds. Clocked times of 4.21 and 4.12 down the line. Shows rhythm in his set-up at the plate and gets barrel to the ball quickly. Contact approach with present bat speed. Moves with a quick first step in the infield and short, compact actions. Fields in balanced, athletic base before funneling quickly into throwing motion. Flashed loose, active hands on all exchanges. Plays with a high motor at all times. Joining Sanidad is fellow infielder and Clemson commit, Kenji Suzuki. The 2020 grad is a smooth athlete with a strong, lean frame at 6-foot, 185 pounds. Wide, athletic set-up in the box with subtle rhythm in hands. Produces above average bat speed with an aggressive, level swing. Drove a ball backside for a 2B early before leaving the game with what appeared to be a tight hamstring. Light on his feet defensively with strength in his actions. Balanced combination of tools to go with present ability.

Last, but certainly not least is 2019 OF Art Schoenstadt. The uncommitted senior is still looking for somewhere to play next year and he’s making a strong case for himself in the first week of the season. 5-foot-8, 175 pounds with a strong, sturdy build to his frame. His first HR of the night was blasted to his backside gap, showing impressive oppo power. Swing gets on plane early and there’s noticeable extension after contact. Generates considerable leverage for his height by hitting against a firm front side with a high, one-handed finish. His next blast in the bottom of the 4th was a towering shot to his pull-side. Hands stay tight to the body prior to swing. Keeps everything connected and in proper sequence. Never lost control of the barrel at any point. Selective approach at the plate. Looks to do damage on any offering within the strike zone. Defensively he profiles nicely to either corner OF spot but the bat is going to be his calling card moving forward. At this pace, hopefully Schoenstadt will be able to shed the uncommitted label sooner, rather than later.