Alumni / March 29, 2024

Scoring Position: Alum Reflects on Career as an MLB Executive

Amiel Sawdaye ’99

Amiel Sawdaye
Amiel Sawdaye's journey from baseball enthusiast to World Series-winning executive exemplifies passion, perseverance, and the path to success in the MLB.

From a kid obsessed with Major League Baseball to a World Series-winning executive, Amiel Sawdaye ’99 has rounded the bases for a successful career in baseball.

Sawdaye, fresh off the heels of a 2023 World Series appearance with the Arizona Diamondbacks, serves as the team’s senior vice president and assistant general manager. In his role, he oversees all aspects of their Major League and scouting operations and provides input in all facets of Baseball Operations.

Before joining the organization, he spent 15 seasons with the Boston Red Sox as vice president of amateur and international scouting. During that time, Sawdaye contributed to three championship teams in 2004, 2007 and 2013 and helped oversee drafts that included notable MLB players such as Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Matt Barnes.

Sawdaye, a Baltimore native, received an information systems degree from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. After graduating, he leveraged his degree to secure a corporate position at General Electric.

However, his baseball fandom compelled him to take a chance on pivoting toward his passion. After cold-calling industry professionals, he eventually scored an internship and ran with it.

“I believe that you have to have a deep-rooted passion for what you do, and I’m a very competitive person. I knew I always wanted to get into team sports,” says Sawdaye. “I just felt that if it didn't work, I could always circle back and do something else with my degree, but fortunately, it did.”

Sawdaye’s ascension through the MLB front office ranks was predicated on three major factors: honesty, accountability, and cultivating relationships. He describes his leadership style as one centered around making himself approachable to everyone at all levels of an organization. That includes maintaining open, candid dialogue and sometimes holding vulnerable conversations.

“Those are the most important things that I’ve learned during my time in baseball. People want to hear what they do well and what they don't do well,” says Sawdaye. “From a leadership perspective, that approach will help people trust you more, and trust is a big word in this business.”

In part, Sawdaye’s efforts and leadership helped the Diamondbacks reach the postseason for the first time since 2017. Despite receiving 18% odds from ESPN to achieve that milestone during the 2023 season and a 0.4% chance to win the World Series, the team posted an 84-78 record to secure the final National League Wild Card spot. It eliminated the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies en route to the Fall Classic before falling to the Texas Rangers in five games.

He credits the development of the team’s young players, including those he helped oversee in the draft, such as Corbin Caroll, Brandon Pfaadt and Alek Thomas, and the squad’s mental fortitude toward the later stages of the season as driving factors behind the run.

“Our primary goal was to play meaningful baseball in September. Most of the public-facing website projections didn’t see us as a World Series team, but we walked into the year knowing we were taking a step forward,” says Sawdaye. “We were cautiously optimistic, but by the end of May, we began to realize this was a postseason contending team.”

With a renewed hunger to win another World Series, a promising young roster and the greater Phoenix community rallying behind the team, Sawdaye is hopeful about the franchise's future and is eager to bring that dream to fruition. 

As for students interested in embarking on their own journeys in the sports industry, Sawdaye has a few pieces of advice: try to apply skills or connect current jobs to sports, find ways to distinguish yourself and pay attention in class.

“I couldn’t have envisioned my major helping me in the sports industry, but it did because it gave me a baseline understanding of statistics and coding. It’s probably why I got the job in Boston in the first place,” says Sawdaye. “It’s really important to take advantage of every class you can because you never know which one will have a profound impact on your career.”

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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