Laguna Beach native hits home run to Yankees front office

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Michael Helton 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,” said Helton, who grew up in Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach native Michael Helton during the 2023 Major League Baseball season at Yankee Stadium. Photo courtesy of Michael Helton.

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 sophomore attending Sage Hill School in Newport Coast, 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.

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