Lose most of your games today, draft a star tomorrow. It worked for NBA teams such as the Cavs, Spurs and Magic, who drafted instant stars LeBron James, Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard first overall. Top-end draft picks in the NBA aren't gold, they're platinum, even if Clippers fans say otherwise.
In baseball, not as much. There's no need for an NBA-style lottery to discourage teams from tanking in quest of a higher draft slot. Now and then, a celestial amateur comes along -- say, an Alex Rodriguez or a Ken Griffey Jr. -- who inspires awe among nearly all scouts. Even those two spent two years in the minors, however.
The Padres (60-77) would draft seventh in June, their highest slot since they chose Donavan Tate third in 2009. This blog queried two non-Padres scouts about the star potential of next year's draft.
"We're not talking at this point about a Bryce Harper or Stephen Strasburg or a Dylan Bundy next year," said a scout whose team is playoff-bound. "I'm not seeing it. Those kind of guys are easily identified at this time of year. I think it can be a good draft next year, but I don think right now you could earmark a couple of guys that are that kind of superstar talent."
Here's a scout whose club will pick in the top 10: "There is no A-Rod. There's no Griffey Jr. It's not going to be that type of draft. Personally, I think it's a little bit down this year from the last five years."
Come June, Padres scouts should know all the good fast-food joints in Palo Alto, as three Stanford juniors will draw scrutiny for the first round: Pitcher Mark Appel, a 6-foot-5 righty who evolved into the team's lead starter last year; shortstop Kenny Diekroeger, who was the conference's Freshman of the Year in 2010; and third baseman Steve Piscotti, who led Stanford in batting average (.364) and RBI (40 in 57 games).
Expect the Padres to study Arizona State shortstop Drew Marrero, the conference's Defensive Player of the Year in 2011 (Padres draftee Eric Sogard, now with the A's, won the same award for ASU in 2007).
Within Southern California, righty Lucas Giolito of North Hollywood Harvard-Westlake will inspire Padres scouts to endure clogged traffic.