Sage Hill Alumni

Sage Hill Alumnus Hits Home Run to Yankees Front Office

By Daniel Langhorne
Michael Helton ’18 started playing T-ball at five years old. He quickly fell in love with baseball.

“I wasn’t the most athletic kid, but something drew me to the thinking nature of the game and just how relaxing it was in a way,” Helton said.

Growing up, Helton had a family friend who owned season tickets to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and would let him see his beloved Boston Red Sox whenever they played at Angel Stadium. Then, as a Sage Hill sophomore, Helton was part of the Lightning Baseball team that claimed victory in the 2016 CIF-Southern Section Division 6 Championship. 

He later accomplished his goal of playing first base and pitching NCAA baseball at Macalester College while earning a bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics and Statistics. He planned to play ball in graduate school but a labrum tear in 2021 stopped him from pitching his senior year.

“I was like, well, the plan’s got to change,” Helton said. “I made a resume in October of my senior year and just started messaging people on LinkedIn. I knew I wanted to work in baseball but I didn't really know what that meant.”

After being rejected from jobs at two other Major League Baseball teams, Helton sent a LinkedIn message to a New York Yankees employee, who offered to read his resume and provide feedback.

“The next day, a different person at the Yankees emailed me and said, ‘hey, I heard you talked to so and so and applied for a job. When do you want to schedule an interview?’” Helton said. “So, for me, it all comes down to luck. I just happened to be in the right position at the right time to even be considered for this job.”

In September 2022, Helton started as a Quantitative Analysis Associate with the Yankees. He’s since been promoted to Analyst for Advance Scouting. As part of the front office, Helton uses algorithms to crunch various performance statistics on thousands of players to help recruit and develop the best talent in the nation.

“There are thousands of people who want these jobs. So, it's going to take a certain aspect where you could be perfect for a situation, but things aren't going to go your way and that's fine,” Helton said. “Put yourself in enough positions and some are bound to go well, and some are bound to go poorly.”

Helton aspires to eventually be tapped as the general manager of a Major League Baseball team.

As Helton’s former baseball coach, Dean of School Life Dominic Campeau was thrilled to learn of his one-time player’s entrance to the Yankee front office.

“To me, this speaks volumes about the values promoted at Sage Hill School, like having the courage to take a chance and the importance of remaining mission-aligned beyond the classroom,” Campeau said. “It also highlights the character-building aspects of the Sage experience. It demonstrates the importance of co-curricular and athletics programs in helping kids develop work ethic and character that make people want to work with you.”

Although Helton claims he played terribly in 2016 – the year Lightning baseball took the CIF division championship – he fondly remembers downtime with his teammates in the dugout listening to their winning song “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson.

“We eventually just started getting on this roll and we were just listening to ‘Uptown Funk’ so much that it's burned in my head,” Helton said.

Helton encourages Sage Hill students to take time to slow down and enjoy their freedom of being in a college-like atmosphere.

“Obviously, do well and succeed but what mattered was the relationships and the fun times and the informal moments,” he said.

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Sage Hill School

Sage Hill School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. The School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship programs, and athletic and other School administered programs.