On November 28, 1992, Ortiz was signed by the Seattle Mariners just 10 days after his 17th birthday, who listed him as "David Arias. " He made his professional debut in 1994 for the Mariners of the Arizona League, batting . 246 with 2 home runs and 20 RBI. By 1995, he had improved those numbers to . 332 with 4 home runs and 37 RBI. In 1996, he was promoted to the Single-A Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the Midwest League, a Mariners farm team. He established himself as one of the Mariners' best hitting prospects, batting . 322 with 18 home runs and 93 RBI. Ortiz also impressed both fans and Mariners' players like Alex Rodriguez with a strong performance in an impromptu home run derby—the result of a failed Mariners' promotion in which the Timber Rattlers were supposed to play an exhibition game against the MLB club in front of their home fans in Wisconsin, but the game was rained out. Also in Wisconsin, Ortiz met his future wife Tiffany; she led him to become a fan of the nearby Green Bay Packers NFL team, a devotion that would become lifelong. Baseball America named Ortiz the most exciting player in the Midwest League, as well as its best defensive first baseman for 1996.
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