The 23-year-old right-hander recorded a career-high 11 strikeouts and gave up three hits over 5 2/3 innings Sunday as the Class A Advanced Kinston Indians blanked the Winston-Salem Dash, 2-0.
Popham (4-0) struck out two batters in each of the first three innings, then fanned three more in the fourth after Andy Wilkins doubled. He registered his 10th strikeout in the fifth, then fanned former first-round pick Jared Mitchell in the sixth to end his day and surpass the career high he set against Lynchburg last Aug. 7.
Popham is unbeaten in six starts and has a 2.29 ERA since returning to Kinston following a brief spell at two higher levels.
After starting the year in the Carolina League, the 2008 20th-round pick went 0-1 in three outings with Double-A Akron in May. He made one relief appearance for Triple-A Columbus and another for Akron before being re-assigned to Kinston last month.
Across the three levels, Popham is 4-1 with a 3.48 ERA and 71 strikeouts over 75 innings.
The Kentucky native is in his fourth year of pro ball. He posted a 0.78 ERA in 14 games out of the bullpen for the Indians' affiliate in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2008, then was 6-1 in 14 starts for short-season Mahoning Valley the following summer. Last year, Popham was 7-6 with a 4.05 ERA across four levels.
After Mitchell struck out, Chris Jones retired the only batter he faced and Trey Haley, Jose Flores and Preston Guilmet each worked an inning. Guilmet struck out the side in the ninth to bring Kinston's total to 17, tying a season high, and record his 24th save.
Winston-Salem's Joseph Serafin (1-8) took the loss, despite making his team-leading eighth quality start. He yielded two runs on five hits and five walks while striking out three over six innings.