In the seventh round of the 1988 MLB Draft, the California Angels selected Jim Edmonds, a high school center fielder from Diamond Bar, California. After six plus years in the big leagues, Edmonds, a one-time All-Star and a two-time Gold Glove Award winner at the time, was shipped to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for starting pitcher Kent Bottenfield and second baseman Adam Kennedy. Bottenfield, a National League All-Star in 1999, made a grand total of 21 starts for the Angels—mustering an ERA of 5.71 in 127.2 innings pitched. Kennedy was slightly more productive with Anaheim as he tallied 15.5 fWAR in seven seasons prior to returning to the Cardinals in 2007.
However, Kennedy's production was dwarfed by what Edmonds was able to do while wearing the Birds on the Bat. From 2000 through 2007, Edmonds slashed .285/.393/.555 with three NL All-Star appearances and six straight Gold Gloves. While with St. Louis, Edmonds produced 41.8 fWAR—the sixth most among position players during that time and the eighth most in Cardinals history. You've already heard from me as to what I think of Edmonds' MLB career.
With that being said, let's take a look at what Steve Gruwell, a scout with the California Angels, had to say about Edmonds prior to the 1988 draft:
via the National Baseball Hall of Fame
According to Fangraphs, the league average center fielder in 1988 had a .262/.321/.384 slash line with a 100 wRC+. Over the course of Edmonds' MLB career (1993 through 2010), never once did the league average center fielder hit for greater than a 100 wRC+. In fact, exactly 100 was reached only three times during his 17 seasons. With a career wRC+ of 132, one could argue that Edmonds outperformed his 60 hitting rating, but that largely depends on the beholder and bias would have to be taken into consideration. Then again, Gruwell did call Edmonds a "terrific looking hitter" and stated that his "bat could carry him to [the] ML," so maybe he was just particularly tough with his grading scale.
In terms of power, Edmonds and his career .527 slugging percentage vastly outpaced the overall league average over the course of his career and this was largely the same when looking at center fielders only. While a 55 rating in 1988 is different than a 55 rating now, again, one could argue that Edmonds outperformed his rating here as well. Gruwell stated that he believed Edmonds had above average power with the ability to drive the ball to all fields. Thus, he wasn't necessarily wrong, but Edmonds probably ended up performing to a 60-65 rating overall, with flashes of 70 during his MV3 seasons with the Cardinals (2000-2005).
When looking at throwing and defense, Gruwell was way off. To his credit, he only saw Edmonds play one time, and he reportedly had a sore arm in 1988, but looking back, 45 future on throwing and 50 future on defense is downright humorous. Gold Gloves are not the best way to determine the overall ability of a fielder, but still, during his prime, Edmonds was largely considered one of the league's very best defensive center fielders, right alongside Andruw Jones. Still, Gruwell probably deserves a pass because based on the day he scouted, there is a chance Edmonds wasn't able to show off his defense.
The most notable inclusion on the entire scouting report can be found in the "weakness" section. Gruwell provided the following comment regarding Edmonds: "off field habits must improve indulged child." Scouts talk with each other and subsequently know a whole lot about the players they are watching, including their personal lives, but I feel like this is still a pretty bold statement to include in writing. Regardless, I think Edmonds did a pretty good job taking care of his off field habits and clearly overcame being an indulged child. However, after reading Gruwell's report, Edmonds' rumored inclusion on the Real Housewives of Orange County provided me with a good chuckle.
The Angels listened to Gruwell. In his summary, he said he "would like to draft this player 6/8 round," and Edmonds was selected by the Angels in the seventh round. Jimmy Ballgame had a nice start to his career with the Angels (19.5 fWAR), but he did not fully blossom until he made it to St. Louis. Thank you, Kent Bottenfield and Adam Kennedy.