Rusney Castillo might be represented by Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports, but the next Cuban sensation to hit MLB is singing a tune by another hip-hop icon, the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy.
"It's All About the Benjamins" for the 27-year-old, tweets MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, who says that Castillo is getting ready to narrow down the field of teams to only the highest bidders for his services.
But he hasn't played organized ball in over a year, and he went up against undrafted Division II pitching at his showcase for major league clubs. That made it difficult for scouts to get an accurate read on him, as noted by Baseball America's Walter Villa.
But he intrigued more than a few teams enough that they scheduled private workouts with him, where he faced more legitimate competition. One of those clubs, the New York Yankees, is ready to negotiate a deal, says George A. King III of the New York Post.
Sources tell King that Boston, Philadelphia, Seattle, Detroit, San Francisco and both Chicago clubs are also interested in the athletic-yet-compact (5'9", 205 pounds) Cuban. While most view him as an outfielder, the Yankees are eyeing him to play second base.
Over parts of five seasons with Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series, Castillo hit .319/.383/.516 with 51 home runs and 226 RBI, successfully swiping 76 bases in 105 attempts, per Cuban-Play.com.
Those are pretty impressive numbers, especially when one considers that he played in more than 100 games only twice in those five seasons. But, as one MLB decision-maker told King, "The league he played in Cuba wasn't great," so perhaps they aren't quite as impressive as they appear.
Yet when it comes to how much Castillo is going to command in a contract, that same decision-maker notes "there is (Cuban) momentum, (so) who knows?"
Another source that watched his workouts believes he's got an idea, telling King “this guy could get $35 million to $50 million because of what Abreu, Cespedes and Puig have done. But eventually somebody is going to be wrong about one of these guys.’’
While that's true—eventually, someone is going to swing and miss with a Cuban player—nobody wants to miss out on the next big thing. Sanchez notes that there is no favorite to sign Castillo, but one thing's for sure: He's going to get paid.
It's just a question as to who will be signing those checks.