Woods takes Sally All-Star Game spotlight

Marlins outfield prospect homers, singles in North Division's 7-5 win

The South Atlantic North All-Stars are 7-1-2 in the last circuit's last 10 All-Star Games. (Tracy Proffitt/Hickory Crawdads)

By Bob Sutton / Special to MiLB.com | June 24, 2015 12:05 AM

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- K.J. Woods of the Greensboro Grasshoppers likes the big stages.

Woods belted a two-run homer in Tuesday night's South Atlantic League All-Star Game.

"I love the spotlight," Woods said. "I love the challenge."

Woods' homer was part of the North Division team's power display in a 7-5 victory against the South at McCormick Field.

The 19-year-old homered twice against the parent Miami Marlins in a preseason exhibition game in early April in Greensboro.

"This was better because this was against someone from a different team," he said of the All-Star smash. "Where was that during the season? … Against the Marlins, those don't count. This one doesn't count."

The outfielder, who served as the North's designated hitter, had a one-hop single off the right-field fence and was thrown out at second in the second inning before his fifth-inning shot off Lexington right-hander Zach Lovvorn.

"I heard the crowd when I hit it," Woods said.

Woods, who has five homers in the regular season, didn't go yard over his last 11 games of the season. When he arrived and saw the right-field wall at Asheville's ballpark, he was pumped up.

"My eyes got big," he said, figuring he'll be excited when the Grasshoppers visit to end the season in September.

Woods wasn't alone in breaking a homer drought.

North right fielder Luke Tendler of Hickory unleashed a two-run shot in the second inning off Rome right-hander Caleb Beech. Tendler, who also has five homers so far this season, hasn't homered in his last 47 regular-season games since an April 26 blast.

"It has been a real long time," Tendler said. "I'd rather hit one when it counts, but I guess this is good for the confidence."

Even though it had been almost two months since he homered, he said, "I knew it was out. It felt good."

North second baseman Steve Wilkerson of Delmarva drilled a two-run, third-inning blast to right-center off Pedro Fernandez of Lexington. The Orioles prospect, who admitted he's not exactly a power hitter, didn't have a homer in the season's first half.

"It makes for a good memory," he said, "but it won't count on my stats. You're never going to be disappointed when you hit one."

South third baseman Rafael Devers of Greenville drove in the first run with a first-inning groundout and teammate Javier Guerra collected an RBI double in the fourth.

The Top Star Award went to North shortstop Malquin Canelo of Lakewood. The Phillies prospect went 2-for-3 with a walk and reached base four times.

"It's a good experience and I feel like a professional," Canelo said. "I just want to do what I do and that's put the ball in play."

The Dominican Republic native said he understands the importance of being a disruption at the top of the batting order.

"My main thing is to improve," he said.

South starting pitcher Helmis Rodriguez of hometown Asheville gave up a single to Canelo, walked Wilkerson and uncorked a wild pitch before working his way out of the jam to the delight of the crowd.

The North improved to 7-1-2 in the league's last 10 All-Star Games.

Bob Sutton is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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