Jeff Hoffman wasn't supposed to be available for the Mariners at 6, but there's a pretty good chance he will be. After joining the recent epidemic of pitchers undergoing Tommy John surgery, Hoffman is bound to tumble out of the top 5, where he was previously mocked.
Jeff Hoffman, RHP, East Carolina University
Pre-injury, Hoffman was routinely mentioned in the same sentence as fellow college stud Carlos Rondon, but now his injury will cause a slide. A similar scenario played out with Lucas Giolito a few years back, falling from a potential #1 overall pick to #16 and the Washington Nationals. Giolito, now fully recovered, is viewed as one of the game's best pitching prospects. But Giolito was a prep arm, and clearly teams can't count on a similar recovery from Hoffman.
If Hoffman is healthy, he's spectacular. 92-96 mph heat, plus changeup, and a minor variation on a slurve that Hoffman likes to throw against lefties. He's also got a curve, but reports on it have been mixed -- it's more of a big looping curve that might not play against better competition. In some ways, Hoffman previously fell under the Gerrit Cole model of college pitchers, guys that have extraordinary stuff but haven't quite figured out how to knock hitters out with it yet (6.89 K/9 in 2013), but that changed in 2014. Hoffman struck out 72 batters in 67.1 innings over 10 starts before his injury shelved him, good for a 2.94 ERA.
Here's some video of Hoffman starting against Virginia this year, courtesy of Baseball America.
Tyler Drenon mocked Hoffman to the Mariners in his Friday mock draft at MLB Daily Dish, which will certainly flip a few stomachs given the rash of injuries the Mariners have had to their top pitching prospects. Assuming the Mariners draft by value and need as opposed to fear, Hoffman could be a good option. Even though recovery from Tommy John is a lot more successful than it used to be, it would still be a surprise to see the Mariners pull the trigger on another injured pitcher. However, Frankie Piliere from Perfect Game USA indicated that there are some teams picking in the 5-10 range who are still considering drafting Hoffman.