When Jay-Z established Roc Nation Sports, the draw of the agency was name recognition. What H.O.V.A. lacked in negotiation experience, he could make up for with his celebrity status and powerful allies.
In June, Rusney Castillo, a 27-year-old MLB prospect who had defected from Cuba in December 2013, became Roc Nation's ninth signing. He joined a megastar roster with the NFL's Victor Cruz, Geno Smith and Hakeem Nicks, MLB's CC Sabathia and Robinson Cano, the NBA's Kevin Durant and James Young and the WNBA's Skylar Diggins.
Castillo has spent the past half-year establishing residency and working with both MLB and the federal government to attain the ability to become a baseball free agent. This summer, Castillo, a member of Cuba's 2011 World Baseball Classic team, put on a series of open and closed workouts for MLB scouts. At his personal showcase, 28 out of 30 teams sent representatives. Castillo's strongest suitors with the deepest pockets also invited him to one-on-one workouts.
Now, his agency is making one more move to get Castillo's name out there. On Jay-Z's official YouTube channel, "Jay Z's Life+Times," a Castillo highlights video was posted Wednesday. On a channel that features backstage content from Jay-Z and wife Beyonce's "On the Run Tour," the video is sure to get some pull.
The video is set to the tune of "Open Letter," a Jay-Z track inspired by the rapper's trip to Cuba in 2013. For their fifth wedding anniversary, Jay-Z and Beyonce spent their vacation on the communist island, despite U.S. national security restrictions making it difficult to travel to Cuba.
Jay-Z called out President Obama for the travel restrictions and said, "I done turned Havana to Atlanta." No word yet if that is supposed to excited Braves fans.
In 2013, Roc Nation made a hard push for Cuban sensation Yasiel Puig, but the Dodgers outfielder opted for Radegen Sports Management. Yoenis Cespedes, another Cuban, also turned Roc Nation down.
Roc Nation seems to have final gotten its Cuban man in Rusney Castillo. The outfielder/infielder could sign as early as this weekend, which could give him time for a quick taste of the minors before joining an MLB club.
The team that grabs him may have a lot of problems, but Rusney Castillo won't be one.