Dale Thayer asked me about this a few times before his promotion and I, of course, waited until after he left to do the research.
Thayer, the Southern League saves champion the last two years, wondered if he was the all-time league saves leader. The Southern League doesn't have a listing for such Crash Davis-like career numbers, so I had to look for myself.
I'm not finished yet, but here's the start.
We do have access to every year's statistical report via Minor League Baseball back through 1994. I went through each season and compiled every pitcher who had at least 10 saves. Then, for those with at least 40 saves, I pulled up their career statistics to make sure they didn't sneak in a small number some other year.
75 -- Dale Thayer (27 in 2005 and 2006 with Mobile, 21 with the Biscuits)
55 -- Billy Sylvester (Greenville from 2001-03)
49 -- Joe Valentine (36 in 2002 with Birmingham, 13 in 2006 with Huntsville)
The Baseball Cube has minor-league stats that go back to 1978 -- and the Jacksonville Suns have their own stats reaching to 1970. The save became an official stat in the majors in 1970.
Since the highest number of saves in the Southern League before 1978 was 22 and I feel confident that nobody totaled just less than the league high for multiple seasons, I'll be comfortable declaring an all-time saves leader once I get to 1978.
Today's lineups ...
Fernando Perez, cf
Brooks Badeaux, dh
Reid Brignac, ss
John Jaso, c
Gabriel Martinez, 3b
Rhyne Hughes, 1b
Erold Andrus, rf
Patrick Breen, lf
Josh Asanovich, 2b
Jake McGee, lhp -- Class AA debut
Adam Rosales, lf
Luis Bolivar, ss
Enrique Cruz, 3b
Mike Griffin, dh
Drew Anderson, 2b
Caonabo Cosme, 1b
Tyrell Godwin, rf
Marland Williams, cf
Craig Tatum, c
Carlos Fisher, rhp
UPDATE: Tim Corcoran successfully negotiated his beard-shaving technique. He said it took him 20 minutes. He did keep a mustache until he got to the clubhouse, but "it looked so bad. I let everybody see it and went in to cut it off."