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Nolan Hoffman

Nolan Hoffman recorded a 1.15 earned-run average in his only season with the Texas A&M Aggies.

The call came earlier than expected.

And some of the details served by the voice on the other end of the call may need to be run through again.

Those missing details can wait just a few more moments. What's important is Nolan Hoffman is now a professional ballplayer.

The Texas A&M junior pitcher and Lincoln Southeast graduate was picked Tuesday by Seattle in the fifth round — 148th overall — of the Major League Baseball Draft.

Hoffman said he will sign with the Mariners and report to training camp in Arizona in five to 10 days. He'll then report for short-season ball.

"He (the Mariners official) was telling me all this and everybody was still yelling, it was hard to remember," said Hoffman, referring to the folks at his College Station, Texas, apartment, including his roommates and his mom. "There was a lot going on."

Hoffman's rise on the scouting reports was a fast one. After two superb seasons at Hutchinson (Kansas) Community College, the Journal Star Super-Stater signed with Rob Childress' Aggies.

Hoffman, however, encountered some early fall ball struggles, and Childress asked him to change his delivery from an over-the-top motion to a sidearm style.

Hoffman was hesitant at first, but he tried it and flourished, emerging as the Southeastern Conference's top relief pitcher. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound hurler finished with a 1.15 earned-run average in 33 appearances, and struck out 53 batters while walking only 12.

He fell seven innings short of the required number of innings needed to lead the SEC in ERA.

"It's pretty crazy, how I was doing in the fall, and coming into the spring I didn't really have expectations for the draft," Hoffman said Tuesday. "I just wanted to contribute to the team. Luckily I was able to do that and now I'm here."

Hoffman said he was hopeful of getting picked during the second day of the draft.

"I was thinking I would be (rounds) seven through 10, somewhere around there, so it was a pretty good surprise when I went that high," Hoffman said. "I wasn't even thinking about (the draft), and then I saw my phone ring, and I was shocked and very happy."

Hoffman is the highest-drafted Lincoln native since Joba Chamberlain in 2006.

Hoffman was the second player with Nebraska ties to hear his name called. Wichita State slugger Alec Bohm, an Omaha Roncalli grad, was taken by the Phillies on Monday night with the third overall pick.

Sean Chandler, a Papillion-La Vista graduate who pitched at Iowa Western, was selected in the sixth round (No. 179 overall) by the Texas Rangers.

Hoffman's junior college and A&M teammate Michael Helman, a Lincoln Pius X graduate, also is draft eligible. The final rounds, 11-40, are Wednesday.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsGrell.

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Sports editor

Clark Grell is sports editor.

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