Each Wednesday timberrattlers.com will countdown the top 20 seasons by a Timber Rattler until #1 is revealed on August 29th. This week: #3
David Arias 1996
.322 batting average, 89 runs, 156 hits, 34 doubles, 2 triples, 18 home runs, 93 rbi's, 3 stolen bases
The Seattle Mariners signed David Americo Arias Ortiz out of the Dominican Republic ten days after his 17th birthday in 1993. He would spend two seasons down in the Arizona League, struggling in 1994 (.219) before finding his groove in '95 (.332). That would be enough to earn him a promotion to a full season club for the 1996 season.
David Arias would open the 1996 season as the starting first baseman for the Timber Rattlers. The soon-to-be power hitter had only hit 6 home runs in his career, so he started the season batting 7th in the lineup. He would get out of the gates hot, hitting 5 homers in his first 20 games and he had 13 by the end of June. His pace would slow through July and August, but only three Timber Rattlers have hit more homers than him since. He was selected a Midwest League All Star and won the Home Run Hitting Contest held at Fox Cities Stadium. Arias led the team in virtually every offensive category, including batting average, hits, runs scored, runs batted in, total bases, slugging percentage, and home runs. His totals in all seven of those categories still rank in the top five in Rattler history. His 34 doubles are also a top five total. The Timber Rattlers made it all the way to the Midwest League Championship Series before succumbing to the West Michigan Whitecaps in game four. It would be the last game Arias would play in the Mariners organization.
Arias would be sent to the Minnesota Twins in September to complete an earlier deal that sent Dave Hollins to Seattle. It was around this time that David stopped going by his mother's last name of Arias and started going by Ortiz. He shot through the Twins system in '97, hitting 32 home runs in four stops, including his first Major League home run, a two-run shot off Julio Santana of the Texas Rangers. After a couple of inconsistant years, as well as breaking his wrist twice, Ortiz had a breakout 2002 season, hitting .272 with 20 HRs and 75 RBI. He was released by the Twins that offseason however, as they attempted to cut payroll. He signed as a free agent with the Boston Red Sox in 2003, and has finished in the top five for AL MVP voting each year since.
Previously on the countdown:
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.