2 Former MLB All-Stars’ Performances Indicate Pop Peppi Can Bring to Hogs

Rocco Peppi, Arkansas baseball, transfer portal
photo credit: Instagram/Rocco Peppi

As an encore to landing a top-3 player in the transfer portal, Arkansas picked up a commitment from one inside the top 25 in Rocco Peppi.

The former Fresno State outfielder announced his decision Tuesday afternoon, giving the Razorbacks one of the best portal hauls in the country this cycle. At the very least, the top end of the class is as strong as anyone’s.

Peppi, who began his career at Long Beach State before enjoying a breakout campaign with the Bulldogs in 2024, checks in at No. 25 on 64Analytics’ transfer portal rankings. He’s entering his final year of collegiate eligibility and will be a fifth-year senior in 2025.

Arkansas has also secured pledges from Ohio State’s Landon Beidelschies (No. 3), TCU’s Logan Maxwell (No. 22) and Florida Gulf Coast’s Charles Davalan (No. 47).

Arkansas now leads the country with four top-50 portal commits, moving past a pair of SEC schools — Alabama and LSU — who have three.

Throw in the additions of Maximus Martin from Georgia State (No. 213), Carson Hansen from Milwaukee (No. 254), Oregon State pitcher Aiden Jimenez. and Kuhio Aloy from BYU (No. 739) and the Razorbacks’ eight-man class is ranked 10th nationally by 64Analytics. It’s behind No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Kentucky and No. 4 LSU in the SEC.

The Career of Rocco Peppi

Not only is Rocco Peppi a candidate for the fabled All-Name Team, but he also has some great bloodlines. His mother, Amy Geldbach Peppi, was a key contributor on Long Beach State’s softball team that reached the Women’s College World Series in 1992, even landing on the All-Tournament Team.

When it was time for Peppi to decide where to play college ball, he opted to follow in his mom’s footsteps and sign with the Dirtbags in the Class of 2020. He was ranked as the No. 366 overall recruit by Perfect Game that year.

After redshirting his first year on campus, Peppi emerged as a starter at Long Beach State in 2022. He slashed .321/.408/.443 with five home runs and 30 RBIs as a redshirt freshman, earning honorable mention All-Big West honors.

Unfortunately, he hit a bit of a sophomore slump the following season, as his batting average dipped to .278, but he still hit six home runs and notched 33 RBIs. His OPS also dropped from .852 to .802.

Looking to hit the reset button, Peppi hit the transfer portal. He remained in California, but headed north to play at Fresno State.

The move worked wonders. He enjoyed a breakout redshirt junior campaign in which he slashed .327/.392/.602, giving him an impressive .994 OPS.

After hitting just 11 total home runs the previous two seasons, Peppi hit 14 for the Bulldogs. He also racked up 56 RBIs.

Despite the surge in power, his already-low strikeout rate dropped to a career-low 11.4%, as he went down on strikes just 28 times in 245 plate appearances. It’s also worth noting that although he doesn’t draw many walks (only 7 this past season), Peppi has a knack for getting hit by a pitch.

The Huntington Beach, Calif., native was plunked 20 times last season alone and he actually has more career HBP (51) than walks (41). That has kept his on-base percentage relatively consistent over the years.

Defensively, Peppi was listed as a “utility” player at Long Beach State and an “infielder/outfielder” at Fresno State, but he appears to primarily be an outfielder. He did make a handful of appearances at third base as a redshirt freshman, when he also split time in center field, but most of his action has been in left field. 

What it Means for Arkansas Baseball

The first five position players Arkansas landed in the portal seemed to illustrate the philosophical shift Dave Van Horn hinted at immediately after the season.

He indicated a desire to bring in more athletic players who don’t solely rely on the long ball and most of those additions fit that profile.

In fact, that group combined for more stolen bases (36) than home runs (35) in 2024, and that’s even with eight home runs and no steals from Kuhio Aloy.

That’s not to say there’s no pop among the earlier transfers, as Carson Hansen and Charles Davalan each hit double-digit home runs last year, but it’s nothing like the potential of Rocco Peppi.

Listed at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, Peppi has “plus raw power, especially to the pull side” and is “as physical as they come,” according to Baseball America’s Peter Flaherty III.

The 11 home runs he hit from 2022-23 at Long Beach State may not jump off the page, but that place isn’t exactly conducive to the long ball. Future MLB All-Star Troy Tulowitzki hit only eight there his final year, while fellow All-Star Evan Longoria — a Golden Spikes Award finalist and No. 3 overall pick — hit 11 in his last season.

Peppi’s power was really on display this past season, as he launched 14 home runs for Fresno State.

Despite Van Horn’s comments about wanting more athletes, he was never going to fully convert to small ball. Home runs will still be important, making players like Peppi necessary to complement the returning power in Wehiwa Aloy and Nolan Souza.

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Check out how the 2025 Arkansas baseball roster is shaping up:

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